Four new Broward School Board members are sworn in after Gov. DeSantis appointed them
South Florida Sun Sentinel | By Scott Travis | August 30, 2022
Broward’s newest School Board members wasted no time showing changes were coming, as they selected one of their own as the new chairman.
Torey Alston — one of five members recently appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (one in May and four last week) — was elected as the new chairman after the longer serving board members lost a 5-4 vote to elect Lori Alhadeff for that role. She was elected vice chair.
Alston, who recently stepped down as county commissioner, is a former student representative on the School Board.
DeSantis appointed Alston and three others — Manuel “Nandy” A. Serrano, Ryan Reiter and Kevin Tynan — on Friday after suspending four School Board members recommended for removal by a statewide grand jury report.
DeSantis also appointed Daniel Foganholi in May to replace Rosalind Osgood, who stepped down to become a state senator.
“This is a new board, a reform board. We all bring solid experiences on governing this school district,” Alston said after being chosen chairman. “Yes, our board looks collectively different from just a few days ago.”
The new board members said improving student achievement and addressing problems identified by the grand jury would be a key focus, including lingering safety issues in the wake of the Parkland shooting and the problematic $800 million bond to renovate schools.
The grand jury completed the report in April 2021, but it was sealed for 16 months while those mentioned negatively fought its release in court. Superintendent Vickie Cartwright agreed to hold a workshop next week to go over the grand jury recommendations and discuss what issues have already been fixed.
“When looking at the report myself, at least in the areas of school safety, I think you will be pleasantly surprised,” Cartwright told the new board members. “You would have thought I had a copy of the grand jury report, which I didn’t. These areas myself and staff recognized early on as areas that needed to be shored up.”
Cartwright started in August 2021, four months after the report was completed. The grand jury indicted her predecessor, Robert Runcie, on a perjury charge. Runcie is now the interim leader of Chiefs for Change, a national superintendent advocacy group.
The grand jury recommended the School Board remove board members Patti Good, Donna Korn, Laurie Rich Levinson, Ann Murray and Rosalind Osgood, saying they failed to hold Runcie accountable for failures. DeSantis removed all but Osgood, who resigned in March to successfully run for the state Senate.
The DeSantis-appointed majority will only last for three months. While Alston will stay for two years to fill out the remaining term of Good, the terms of the other three appointees and Foganholi expire in November, and they’ll be replaced by the winners of four runoffs to be held Nov. 8.