BY OLIVIA GIL
Garnering applause and causing concern across the country, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has officially appointed four new Broward County school board members to fill the spaces left by their suspended predecessors. This decision was made following the results of an investigative case on school safety in Broward County, when the Twentieth Statewide Grand Jury had found Patricia Good, Donna Korn, Ann Murray and Laurie Rich Levinson guilty of incompetence and neglect of duty.
This look into wrongdoing began in February 2019 and concluded in April of 2021; the results had been kept under seal as the school board fought with the Florida Supreme Court to appeal their names from the release of the report. The court declined the board’s appeal and released the findings to the public in August of 2022.
The report states that the five school board members had “engaged in acts of incompetence and neglect of duty,” referring mainly to a 1 billion dollar bond issue approved by voters in 2014, intended for renovation and advancement of security in Broward County Public Schools (BCPS).
This bond is believed to have been able to prevent the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018, given if the funds were directed into a safety-related alarm intended to be implemented. Along with repairing countless needed school repairs across the county that are putting the health of students and staff at risk.
“[it] was and is such a low priority that it remains uninstalled at multiple schools,” said a representative of DeSantis. “Students continue to be educated in unsafe, aging, decrepit, moldy buildings that were supposed to have been renovated years ago.”
This has caused upset among voters, as they have seen elected officials going against their campaign promises and putting the health and safety of their children at risk. An institutional issue which DeSantis aims to solve through his suspensions.
“It is my duty to suspend people from office when there is clear evidence of incompetence, neglect of duty, misfeasance or malfeasance,” said DeSantis in a statement concerning the suspensions. “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.”
BCPS families are now left questioning whether these newly appointed board members will make the decisions and take the actions their predecessors promised. Hoping that they will see a school board centered on student safety come the November elections.
“I’m hoping that with the voting in November we can …eliminate the corruptions, we can eliminate the mismanagement and take what we have learned about the tragedy at Parkland … and actually get a good school board together, that has the interests of the kids and the teachers,” English 4 and AICE Film teacher Shauna Mogan said. “That’s what we need.”