Broward school board members sworn in, pick Lori Alhadeff as chair, Debbi Hixon as vice chair

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Newly-elected and re-elected Broward School Board members have selected a new chair and vice chair—and both are women who lost family members in the 2018 Parkland school shooting.

Lori Alhadeff won the chairpersonship in a 6-2 vote, while Debbi Hixon was unanimously elected as vice chair.

Alhadeff lost her 14-year-old daughter, Alyssa, in the shooting, while Hixon lost her husband, Chris.

Alhadeff said that her daughter continues to be her biggest inspiration for remaining on the school board.

“Alissa, she is my reason and drive to continue to pour my heart into being a school board member,” she said.

The two women were first elected in 2020.

The new board members are expected to review the recent decision by the majority of the outgoing school board members all appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis, who decided to fire superintendent Vickie L. Cartwright on Nov. 15.

As newly elected chair, Alhadeff will guide the board on important issues including whether Cartwright stays or goes.

“How the item came forward-- I think that was rushed,” said Alhadeff. “It wasn’t probably, really to the intent of the sunshine law noticed.”

Alhadeff says the new board will have to have a conversation as to how to move forward.

Broward School Board Member Brenda Fam, of District 6 said that she is acknowledging that residents want change.

“I’ve been listening and I hear you and what I hear you say is ‘we want change, ‘”said Fam.

Jeff Holness, Broward School Board Member of District 5, also said, “We will fight together and unite in our endeavor to give every child from every community a fair opportunity to succeed.”

Not sworn in on Tuesday was Rodney Velez, who won the election in District 1.

Velez said he was able to restore his voting eligibility after a 1995 felony conviction, but that didn’t guarantee other rights, including holding public office.

“If I do get sworn in, I understand that I will be breaking the law and knowingly I will not do that,” said Velez.

About the Authors:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba. 

Ryan Mackey is our newest digital journalist at WPLG. He is New York born and South Florida raised.