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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended four members of the Broward County School Board after reading a report issued by a grand jury empaneled following the Parkland school shooting.
Pointing to the board members’ “incompetence, neglect of duty, and misuse of authority,” DeSantis signed an executive order suspending Patricia Good, Donna Korn, Ann Murray and Laurie Rich Levinson and naming their replacements.
“It is my duty to suspend people from office when there is clear evidence of incompetence, neglect of duty, misfeasance or malfeasance,” DeSantis said. “The findings of the Statewide Grand Jury affirm the work of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School Safety Commission. We are grateful to the members of the jury who have dedicated countless hours to this mission and we hope this suspension brings the Parkland community another step towards justice. This action is in the best interest of the residents and students of Broward County and all citizens of Florida.”
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The Twentieth Statewide Grand Jury has issued several reports, but its final report, which ran to more than 130 pages, spent a substantial amount of time pointing to specific problems of fraud and misuse of millions of dollars of state funds.
“Our discussion around the topics in this Report are going to get very specific,” the grand jury members wrote. “We are going to name names, we are going to point to specific acts on specific dates. … We do all of this in an effort to provide the taxpayers in these school districts with a clear picture of what is happening in their schools, who is causing it, and why.”
Grand jury members found some school board members, but not all, “committed malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, and incompetence in mismanaging the SMART Program, a multimillion-dollar bond” for improving school safety and providing for renovations.
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Years after the deadly shooting, grand jury members found that schools haven’t installed security systems that, had they been in place, could have saved lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
“Even four years after the events of February 14, 2018, the final report of the Grand Jury found that a safety-related alarm that could have possibly saved lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School ‘was and is such a low priority that it remains uninstalled at multiple schools,’” DeSantis' office wrote.
Besides schools being “unsafe” environments, the grand jury members also slammed the board members for allowing education to continue in “aging, decrepit, moldy buildings that were supposed to have been renovated years ago.”
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DeSantis’ office pointed to select, key pieces of the grand jury’s report to say, “These are inexcusable actions by school board members who have shown a pattern of emboldening unacceptable behavior, including fraud and mismanagement, across the district.”
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