Florida Governor Ron DeSantis talks at a press conference at the Broward County Courthouse on Aug. 18. File Photo By Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 26 (UPI) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday announced that he suspended four elected members of the Broward County School Board on the recommendation of a grand jury impaneled to examine safety issues surrounding the Parkland high school shooting.
Last week, the grand jury panel released a report that found that four current school board members and a fifth former member “mismanaged” an $800 million bond package approved by voters in 2014 meant to implement school safety initiatives.
The members of the grand jury, which was impaneled in February 2019, wrote in its final report that “it is clear to us that this body was impaneled because of the tragedy” when 14 children and three educators were murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018.
The report found that such initiatives including a safety-related alarm that could have possibly saved lives at the high school in Parkland “was and is such a low priority that it remains uninstalled at multiple schools.”
The grand jurors found that students continue to attend school in “unsafe, aging, decrepit, moldy buildings that were supposed to have been renovated years ago.”
DeSantis said in a statement that he suspended Patricia Good, Donna Korn, Ann Murray and Laurie Rich Levinson because of “their incompetence, neglect of duty and misuse of authority.”
The fifth person named in the report, Rosalind Osgood, was elected to the State Senate earlier this year.
“These are inexcusable actions by school board members who have shown a pattern of emboldening unacceptable behavior, including fraud and mismanagement, across the district,” the press release from DeSantis reads.
The governor said that it is his “duty to suspend people from office when there is clear evidence of incompetence, neglect of duty, misfeasance or malfeasance.”
All four board members suspended Friday are registered Democrats, The New York Times reported. Levinson, the former board chair, told the outlet that the report set them up for “political retribution.”
“What Gov. DeSantis did is un-American and undemocratic,” Levinson told the Times. “He doesn’t care about democracy and he overturned the will of the voters.”
DeSantis appointed Torey Alston, Manual Serrano, Ryan Reiter and Kevin Tynan to replace the suspended board members.
The release of the grand jury report came as the gunman, Nikolas Cruz, faces a trial to determine whether he will be sentenced to death or life in prison for the deadly shooting.
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