BY JENNIFER CABRERA
Ever since Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Kim Barton issued an official statement saying that Diyonne McGraw’s home address is not in the district she ran in, it has been clear that she will be removed at some point from her school board seat, whether voluntarily or involuntarily.
Florida Statutes and Alachua County School Board policies are clear that any member that does not remain in their district is no longer qualified to be in their seat. Nothing else matters. It doesn’t matter that McGraw was elected by voters all over the county; it doesn’t matter that she claims she was told that she lives in District 4; it doesn’t matter that her election created a historic 3-black-woman majority on the board. What matters is that there are rules for school board members, and every vote she takes as a school board member is in violation of the rules. This is a terrible example to set for the children of our county. On top of that, her sworn Candidate’s Oath contains a falsehood, whether she knew it at the time or not–and instead of acknowledging that, McGraw continues to make excuses and blame the situation on others.
Since everyone knows she will not remain in the seat, the only possible reason for her refusal to resign–and for Chair Leanetta McNealy and Member Tina Certain to continue to support her in that–is to push through as much change as possible before she is removed.
Attorney Jeff Childers has put the school board on notice that he will ask the courts to overturn every 3-2 vote in which McGraw is in the majority, so with every meeting, McGraw is now adding to the stack of votes that may need to be unwound. Since contracts are made, funds are expended, people are hired and fired, and other tasks are undertaken based on these votes, McGraw is costing the taxpayers of this county unnecessary money, and instead of working for all the children, as she says she is doing, she is actually wasting money that would otherwise be used to improve our children’s education.
To make things worse, last night McGraw proposed a bizarre plan for immediately redistricting the school board based on the 2010 census data, and McNealy agreed that it needs to be done as soon as possible, saying, “This is an emergency!” Since the rules of redistricting require that new districts be drawn so that current board members continue to live in their district, this would re-draw District 2 to include McGraw’s house. If you can’t win by the existing rules, just change them, right?
Judge Donna Keim stated yesterday that the case against McGraw is likely to succeed on its merits. McGraw needs to accept that she is on the wrong side of this and resign.