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State Board Of Education Unanimously Approves Sen. Manny Diaz Jr. For Education Commissioner

MIAMI (CBSMiami/NSF) - In a unanimous vote, Senator Manny Diaz Jr. has been appointed by the state's Board of Education to serve as the next Commissioner of Education.

Diaz Jr. is the first Hispanic Commissioner of Education in Florida's history.

The Board of Education's vote makes his appointment effective June 1, 2022.

"I am extremely humbled and appreciative of the faith and trust that the State Board of Education has placed in me. Rest assured, Florida will continue to serve students, parents, and educators in our quest to provide students with a world-class education that meets the unique and individual needs of all students," said the senator in a statement.

Diaz Jr. will take over for Commissioner Richard Corcoran who will formally leave the department on May 1st. Corcoran, a Republican former House speaker, announced last month that he will "return to private life" when his resignation takes effect.

"From our time in the legislature until now, Senator Diaz has been an absolute warrior for students, parents and educators. His dedication to Florida families will endure as he steps into the role of Commissioner of Education," said Corcoran in a statement.

Senior Chancellor Jacob Oliva will act as the interim Commissioner until Diaz Jr. takes office.

In his time as commissioner, Corcoran has served as a top ally of DeSantis on contentious education issues. For instance, Corcoran was instrumental in carrying out DeSantis' directives to stop school districts from enforcing mask mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic and to prevent critical race theory in classrooms.

Diaz similarly has helped carry out DeSantis' education agenda.

The Hialeah Republican was elected to the Senate in 2018 after serving in the House for six years. He has held posts such as chairman of the Senate Education Committee and the House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee.

Diaz has sponsored high-profile education bills, including two measures during the 2022 legislative session that were top priorities of DeSantis.

One of those measures (HB 7) would restrict how race-related issues can be taught in schools and in workplace training.

Part of the bill pertaining to public-schools, for example, seeks to prevent instruction that would cause students to feel "guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress" because of past actions by members of the same race, sex or national origin.

The bill was dubbed by DeSantis the "Stop Wrongs Against Our Kids and Employees Act," or Stop WOKE Act. It has not formally been sent to DeSantis for his signature.

A news release from the governor's office about DeSantis' recommendation of Diaz touted the measure as "eliminating CRT (critical race theory) and woke training in Florida schools and businesses."

Diaz is a former classroom teacher who works as an administrator for Doral College, a private school that is a part of Miami-based charter school company Academica.

(©2022 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.)

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