TALLAHASSEE - Governor Ron DeSantis on Friday suspended Broward School Board Members Patricia Good, Donna Korn, Ann Murray and Laurie Rich Levinson from office.
The move followed recommendations of the Twentieth Statewide Grand Jury to suspend these board members due to their "incompetence, neglect of duty, and misuse of authority."
The suspensions are effective immediately.
Page five references the grand jury report that "each committed malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, and incompetence" in handling a campus safety program.
A program the Governor stated could have saved lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
The order says, "each hereby suspended from the public office that they now hold."
DeSantis has appointed five of the nine school members in Broward County, a predominantly democrat-leaning county.
Good holds seat two, to which Torey Alston was appointed. A source tells us he will finish her term, ending in 2024. It's the second time DeSantis has appointed Alston to a position within the county in a year. Last November, he was tabbed a County Commissioner. Alston also served as Chief of Staff at the Florida Department of Transportation for nearly three years.
CBS4 left multiple messages to speak with Alston about the new role.
"It is my duty to suspend people from office when there is clear evidence of incompetence, neglect of duty, misfeasance or malfeasance," said Governor Ron DeSantis. "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."
The governor said "students continue to be educated in unsafe, aging, decrepit moldy buildings that were supposed to have been renovated years ago. These are inexcusable actions by school board members who have shown a pattern of emboldening unacceptable behavior, including fraud and mismanagement across the district."
Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco told CBS4's Peter D'Oench, "My reaction is that this is deplorable. Our voters voted in people to do the business of Broward Public schools and unfortunately what the Governor is doing is putting politics in. What he should be doing is focusing more on more resources for schools in Broward County."
State Senator Rosalind Osgood is a former Broward School Board member who questions what DeSantis did.
"When you go through the Democratic process... it is my personal belief that unless someone commits a crime no one has the right to remove them. It goes against the voters' choice," said Osgood.
Over in Tamarac, Attorney Kevin Tynan speaks with us about his appointment to the school board. He will fill Korn's seat and expects to be sworn in on Tuesday, serving through mid-November.
"You know, hopefully, collectively, board meetings help restore trust in the system," said Tynan.
Tynan is a former GOP Chair in Broward. It's his second time receiving this appointment. The first was under then-Governor Charlie Crist.
"Always said I wanted a second shot at their budget," added Tynan.
Tynan takes over Korn's seat. His objectives include fiscal responsibility, construction projects, and school safety initiatives.
"We need to protect our children, as homeowners, we need to have reasonable taxes, and the trust placed on the school board with the monies that they're given, we need to make sure they're spent wisely and appropriately," emphasized Tynan.
Laurie Levinson, who had been on the school board for nearly 12 years, told CBS4, "What DeSantis did was un-American and un-democratic. He doesn't care about democracy. He overturned the will of the voters. This is all about politics and retribution for not firing (former schools superintendent) Robert Runcie."
In a statement, a Broward schools spokesperson said, "as our district undergoes this transition, we remain focused on the operations of our schools and our commitment to our students to provide a great educational experience to all students."
Ryan Reiter, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran with Honorable Discharge, was appointed to the board today. He's the current Director of Government Relations at Kaufman Lynn Construction. Previously an aide to former GOP Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca.
And Manual "Nandy" A. Serrano, member of the Florida Sports Foundation Board of Directors and CEO and Founder of Clubhouse Private Wealth.
We did reach out to both Serrano and Reiter. Neither has returned our request for comment.
Governor DeSantis made four appointments to the Broward County School Board in the place of the four suspended members:
• Torey Alston, former Commissioner of the Broward County Board of County Commissioners and President of Indelible Solutions;
• Manual "Nandy" A. Serrano, member of the Florida Sports Foundation Board of Directors, and CEO and Founder of Clubhouse Private Wealth;
• Ryan Reiter, a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and Director of Government Relations for Kaufman Lynn Construction; and
• Kevin Tynan, Attorney with Richardson and Tynan, who previously served on the Broward County School Board and South Broward Hospital District.
CBS4 reached out to Korn, Murray and Goode but have not heard back. There are a total of 9 school board members.
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