April 1, 2023

Governor Ron DeSantis ousts a Florida school board over grand jury report on 2018 Valentine’s Day mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland of four elected members.

The governor filed an executive order Friday to immediately suspend Patricia Good, Donna Korn, Ann Murray and Laurie Rich Levinson of the Broward County School Board, accusing them of fraud and mismanagement.

“When there is clear evidence of incompetence, negligence, malfeasance or malfeasance, it is my duty to suspend,” he said in a press release announcing the suspension.

Mr. DeSantis said the move marks a “step toward justice” for the Parkland community and is “in the best interests of residents and students of Broward County and all citizens of Florida.”

A statewide grand jury on Friday released its long-awaited report on the Parkland mass shooting, finding the four officers exhibited “deception, malfeasance, malfeasance, negligence and incompetence” in their handling of the campus security program.

An investigation into the events of the day found that a simple security alarm that could have saved lives had not been installed at the high school as of February 14, 2018.

Even now, more than four years later, a grand jury found that sirens continued to be unloaded in many schools across the county.

“Students continue to be educated in unsafe, aging, dilapidated, moldy buildings that were supposed to be renovated years ago,” the 122-page report reads.

Following the attacks, a grand jury established in 2019 called on the governor to remove the officers.

It also cites a fifth person – Rosalind Osgood – but she no longer serves on the school board. Ms. Osgood is now a member of the Florida Senate.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a primary night event in Hialeah, Florida on August 23, 2022

(AFP via Getty Images)

The Florida governor is rumored to be planning to run for the White House in 2024, appointing Torey Alston, Manual “Nandy” Serrano, Ryan Reiter and Kevin Tynan to replace the four board members who were suspended.

Board chair Ms Levinson condemned the report, calling it a “political axe job” orchestrated by Mr DeSantis.

“What country is this? What Governor DeSantis is doing is neither American nor democratic. He doesn’t care about democracy and overturns the will of voters,” she told CNN.

“It’s all about political revenge for not firing Superintendent Rancy. It’s about blaming the principal and any school board member who supported him for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting. All four board members were elected multiple times by the people , including after the tragedy. My heart will always be with all families and communities.

“Because you may disagree with local policy decisions, this is not a reason to remove someone from an elected office…. This behavior is akin to authoritarianism, where voters in the United States of America do not decide who represents them.”

Broward Public Schools principal Robert Rancy resigned last year after being accused of lying to a grand jury during a grand jury investigation. He is currently awaiting trial on the charges.

It’s just the latest official elected by the people of Florida, with Mr. DeSantis being removed from office this month.

State Attorney Andrew Warren has been removed from office by the governor after he said he would refuse to enforce laws banning abortion and vital gender-affirming care for transgender youth.

Mr. Warren responded by suing the governor.

Nicolas Cruz chews on a pen as he goes on trial in court this week

(© South Florida Sun Sentinel 2022)

The move comes as Broward County Court is conducting a sentencing trial for the Parkland gunman.

Nikolas Cruz, a former student at the school at age 19, brought an AR-15 into the freshman building and carried out one of the worst school shootings in American history.

In October, he pleaded guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder.

The jury will now decide whether he will be sentenced to life in prison without parole, or the death penalty.

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