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Gov. DeSantis Wants Accountability Via Statewide Grand Jury; Issues Executive Order To Increase School Safety

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Nearly one year after the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order to increase school safety and said he would ask the Florida Supreme Court to impanel a statewide grand jury to investigate the Broward County school system.

Gov. DeSantis made the announcement through his Twitter account on Wednesday afternoon and then appeared in a news conference at the Broward County Courthouse surrounded by Parkland survivors and their families.

"This order directs the Florida Department of Education to improve access to information from other agencies as well as threats made on social media," DeSantis posted on his Twitter account.

Governor DeSantis makes announcement in Broward:


"While we cannot bring back the innocents lost, we can honor their memory by learning from the mistakes that were made and resolving to swiftly correct all of those within our control," DeSantis said in a tweet.

CLICK HERE to read the executive order in its entirety.

Earlier in the day, DeSantis sent a letter to Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Commissioner Rick Swearingen, "directing FDLE to prioritize the establishment of a threat analysis strategy to ensure that every government entity coordinates and cooperates in identifying and stopping persons on the pathway toward violence from committing such acts."

DeSantis also announced that he did not have the power to remove Broward Schools Chief Robert Runcie.

"I also was asked to look into the school board members who are supporting the old regime and have been resistant to change. And I looked at that and yes they are elected but it's not clear to me that having policy disputes would be a reason to exercise that power. I'm also mindful that there was just an election just last year," DeSantis said.

The governor also said he wants to bring accountability via a statewide grand jury. To that end, Desantis said he filed a petition with the Florida Supreme Court to impanel a statewide grand jury to examine and review school safety measures.

"As the one-year anniversary of one of the darkest days in Florida history approaches, it's clear more needs to be done," said Governor DeSantis. "What's truly devastating is that the tragedy in Parkland was avoidable. As Governor, I have a moral obligation to protect the children in our state, which is why I have requested a statewide grand jury to investigate school safety practices and failures occurring around the state and to identify measures to improve the safety of our students."

"It's not limited to Broward County. It is multi-jurisdictional but I think it's something that is warranted," DeSantis said.

The office of the governor said the grand jury investigation will investigate any crime or wrong within Florida Statute § 905.34 that relates to the following:
• Whether refusal or failure to follow the mandates of school-related safety laws, such as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, results in unnecessary and avoidable risk to students across the state;
• Whether public entities committed – and continue to commit – fraud and deceit by accepting state funds conditioned on implementation of certain safety measures while knowingly failing to act;
• Whether school officials committed – and continue to commit – fraud and deceit by mismanaging, failing to use, and diverting funds from multi-million-dollar bonds specifically solicited for school safety initiatives; and
• Whether school officials violated – and continue to violate – state law by systematically underreporting incidents of criminal activity to the Florida Department of Education.

On Wednesday afternoon, Broward Schools Chief Robert Runcie released the following statement:

"I agree with Governor DeSantis for wanting to know how all school districts in Florida manage money and security issues that impact school safety. Broward County Public Schools welcomes any review or investigation that could result in improved safety and security in our own district and school districts across the state. What we learn individually and from each other will make us all better and will benefit our students and teachers."

DeSantis approval rating stands at 48 percent, while his disapproval is only at 18 percent, with 34 percent unsure, according to a statewide survey by the Florida Atlantic University Business and Economics Polling Initiative ( FAU BEPI ).

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(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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