BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA — Today, four Broward County school board members were removed following a final report from a statewide grand jury.
Governor Ron DeSantis suspended Patricia Good, Donna Korn, Ann Murray, and Laurie Rich Levinson from office due to “incompetence, neglect of duty, and misuse of authority,” according to the report.
COULD HAVE SAVED LIVES
The Grand Jury recommended that the governor take action after they found that a safety alarm “was and is such a low priority that it remains uninstalled at multiple schools.” The alarm may have saved lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In addition, “students continue to be educated in unsafe, aging, decrepit, moldy buildings that were supposed to have been renovated years ago.”
In a statement, the governor’s office said that the actions of these school board members are inexcusable, and they show a pattern of unacceptable behavior, including fraud and mismanagement across the school district.
The suspensions, which are permanent removals under the executive order, are effective immediately. “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 appointed four new members to the Broward County School Board to take the place of the four ousted school board 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.
The Twentieth Statewide Grand Jury was impaneled by the Florida Supreme Court in February 2019, following the tragic loss of 17 individuals at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School one year prior.
The members of the Jury were asked to examine four issues. One in which school officials were accused of committing fraud by mismanaging funds devoted to school safety. The Statewide Grand Jury’s final report found that the SMART Program – a multimillion-dollar bond specifically solicited for school safety and renovation initiatives – was mismanaged by the school board.
The Statewide Grand Jury also found that the Board was aware of serious problems with the SMART Program, including former Superintendent Runcie’s inability or unwillingness to manage those problems, yet did not take action.
A fifth member mentioned in the report, Rosalind Osgood, is no longer a school board member and is not subject to the governor’s executive suspension authority. Osgood is now a member of the Florida Senate.