Ahead of swearing-in, DeSantis declares Broward school board member-elect’s seat ‘vacant’

Rod Velez promises fight, accuses governor of ‘playing politics’

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – There’s been a last-minute twist in the saga of Broward school board member-elect Rod Velez.

Velez, who won election to the board in November for the District 1 seat, had not been sworn in yet as he awaited clarification over whether a past felony conviction disqualified him from office.

In 1995, Velez pleaded guilty to aggravated battery.

Less than 20 minutes before Velez’s planned swearing-in Thursday morning, the office of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that the governor declared Velez’s seat on the board vacant — and that DeSantis would pick a replacement.

DeSantis then announced that he would select Daniel Foganholi to take Velez’s place on the board.

Foganholi had just wrapped up a brief term as a school board member for District 5, sworn-in in May to replace Rosalind Osgood, who was elected to the Florida State Senate.

A spokesperson for DeSantis released the following statement after he issued an executive order declaring the vacancy:

“Per Florida Statutes, a vacancy in office occurs ‘upon the refusal of the person elected or appointed to accept the office,’ and that a vacancy in office shall occur ‘upon the failure of a person elected or appointed to office to qualify for office within 30 days from the commencement of the term of office.’ Since 30 days have passed since the commencement of the term of office for Broward County School Board District 1, and no person has taken office within that time period, Governor DeSantis declares that a vacancy exists on the Broward County School Board, which he will fill in compliance with the law.”

Taryn Fenske, Communications Director

After his scheduled 11 a.m. swearing-in got cancelled, Velez addressed local media outlets, promising a fight.

“This is far from over. The people did vote for me — 30,735,” Velez said. “I’m not in there right now, where I should be. So, once again, our governor is playing politics.”

Velez said he was speaking with his attorneys to figure out what legal action they plan to take on his behalf.

Foganholi, Velez’s replacement, lives in Coral Springs, which is outside of District 1.

Appointed officials are not required to live within their districts, but they must reside in the district if they hope to be elected.

This is a developing story. Stay with Local 10 News and Local10.com for updates.

About the Authors:

Saira Anwer joined the Local 10 News team in July 2018. Saira is two-time Emmy-nominated reporter and comes to South Florida from Madison, Wisconsin, where she was working as a reporter and anchor.

Chris Gothner joined the Local 10 News team in 2022 as a Digital Journalist.