Florida school superintendent who criticized DeSantis could lose job | Florida

Florida officials are threatening to revoke the teaching license of a school superintendent who criticized the governor, Ron DeSantis.

The educator is accused of violating several statutes and DeSantis directives and allowing his “personal political views” to guide his leadership.

A revocation by the state education department could allow DeSantis to remove the Leon county superintendent, Rocky Hanna, from his elected office.

The Republican governor did that last year to an elected Democratic prosecutor in the Tampa Bay area who disagreed with his positions limiting abortion and care for transgender teens and indicated he might not enforce new laws in those areas.

Disney sued DeSantis this week, saying he targeted its Orlando theme parks for retribution after it criticized the governor’s so-called “don’t say gay” law that banned the discussion of sexuality and gender in early grades and has now been expanded.

Hanna has publicly opposed that law, once defied the governor’s order that barred any mandate students wear masks during the Covid pandemic, and criticized a DeSantis-backed bill that will pay for students to attend private school.

The Leon county district, with about 30,000 students, covers Tallahassee, the state capital, and its suburbs.

“It’s a sad day for democracy in Florida, and the first amendment right to freedom of speech, when a state agency with unlimited power and resources, can target a local elected official in such a biased fashion,” Hanna said.

A Democrat then running as an independent, Hanna was elected to a second four-year term in 2020 with 60% of the vote. He plans to run for re-election next year and does not need a teacher’s license to hold the job.

“This investigation has nothing to do with these spurious allegations, but rather everything to do with attempting to silence myself and anyone else who speaks up for teachers and our public schools in a way that does not fit the political narrative of those in power,” Hanna said.

He said the investigation was spurred by a single complaint from a leader of the local chapter of Moms for Liberty, a conservative education group.

“We are fighting tirelessly with our local school board to no avail,” Brandi Andrews wrote to DeSantis, citing Hanna’s mask mandate, opposition to new education laws and directives and public criticism of the governor.

Andrews noted she had appeared in a DeSantis re-election TV commercial. Her letter was stamped “Let’s Go Brandon”, a code used by some conservatives to replace a vulgar chant against Joe Biden. Andrews said her complaint against Hanna was one of many.

An education department spokesman, Alex Lanfranconi, said that while officials would not discuss the Hanna investigation in detail, “nothing about this case is special”.

“Any teacher with an extensive history of repeated violations of Florida law would be subject to consequences up to and including losing their educator certificate,” he said.

The threatened revocation was first reported by the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper.

Hanna can have a hearing before an administrative judge, attempt to negotiate a settlement or surrender his license. He said he had not decided what to do.

Hanna received a letter from the education commissioner, Manny Diaz Jr, earlier this month saying an investigation found probable cause he violated a 2021 directive barring districts from mandating that students wear masks.

Hanna required students to wear masks after a Leon third-grader died of Covid. The fight went on for several months until Leon and other districts had their legal challenge rejected.

Diaz also cited a memo Hanna issued before this school year telling teachers, “You do You!” and to teach as they always had, allegedly giving approval to ignore laws enacted by DeSantis.

His letter also cites the district’s failure for a month in 2020 to have an armed guard or police officer at every school as required after the 2018 Parkland high school shooting. Hanna said there were not enough available officers to meet that requirement. The education department cleared him of wrongdoing.

Diaz also complains parents were told children could get an excused absence if they chose to attend a February protest at the state capitol opposing DeSantis’s education policies.

Offering students a “free day off of school” to attend the rally “is another example of [Hanna] failing to distinguish his political views from the standards taught in Florida schools”, Diaz wrote.

( Information from politico.com was used in this report. Also if you have any problem of this article or if you need to remove this articles, please email here and we will delete this immediately. [email protected] )

Leave a Comment

Share to...