Former resident of school board member’s group homes says Diyonne McGraw’s employees instructed him to vote for her


GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Voting records from the 2020 election show that 29-year-old Destin Collins, a resident of one of Diyonne McGraw’s group homes, registered to vote and voted in the 2020 Primary Election. There’s only one problem, according to Collins’ mother, Melana Weems: Collins is legally incompetent to vote, and she says McGraw knew that because it is specified in the court order that names Weems as Collins’ Guardian Advocate.

Weems told Alachua Chronicle that her son said he was taken to a polling place and instructed to vote for Diyonne McGraw in the 2020 Primary Election (he said the group home manager filled out the ballot for him, but he was very clear that he knew he voted for McGraw); Collins also told his mother that he didn’t vote in any other races on the ballot. Voting records confirm that Collins voted early (in person) in the 2020 Primary Election, which included McGraw’s first school board race. Collins moved into the group home near the end of March 2020 and registered to vote as a Democrat, using the address and phone number of the group home, on April 15, 2020. Weems said Collins was never registered to vote before 2020, as far as she knows. 

Voter registration records for the addresses of McGraw’s group homes show seven other people registered to vote, all as Democrats; three of them registered in 2020. It is unknown whether these people are prevented from voting for reasons of competency, but the group homes specifically serve people with developmental disabilities. Group homes are required by law to facilitate voting for residents who are qualified to vote.

“So hungry during COVID”

Weems provided Alachua Chronicle with documents showing that Collins weighed 242 pounds in early March 2020; he weighed 187 pounds in June 2021 and now weighs 162 pounds. Collins is legally totally incapacitated with spina bifida, and Weems said that as his Guardian Advocate, she was not aware of any need for a weight loss diet. Weems said her son told her he was “so hungry during COVID.”

Weems told us she met personally with McGraw in November 2022 and then submitted complaints to the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD). Weems says that her requests to McGraw’s company for numerous reports have gone unanswered, that her son was made to sign papers that he is not legally qualified to sign, and that phone calls between Weems and her son were restricted for three days without explanation. She also says he was moved from one home to another without warning and without explanation. 

Clients in group homes have specific rights, and the first right on the list is an “unrestricted right to communication,” including “reasonable opportunities for telephone communication.” Weems says her son’s rights were violated by the restriction on telephone calls.

APD has dismissed Weems’ concerns

In spite of the fact that the document naming Weems as Collins’ Guardian Advocate states that he lacks the decision-making ability to vote, to determine his residency, or to make decisions about his social environment or other social aspects of his life, an APD representative wrote to Weems to say that based on her guardianship documents, “you [sic] son/ward has the ability to make decisions that occur at the group home, which includes changing homes, service requests and when he participates in activities that occur within the home and community.”

From the Order appointing Weems as Collins’ Guardian Advocate
From the Order appointing Weems as Collins’ Guardian Advocate

Weems sent us a long list of allegations that Collins’ rights were violated while he was in McGraw’s group homes, but she said her complaints have been dismissed by McGraw, her son’s Waiver Support Coordinator, and the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. She showed us several emails from APD that did not address her specific concerns, displayed a lack of familiarity with the court order establishing a Guardian Advocate, and suggested that she consider returning her son to the family home.

Termination of Collins’ placement

After Weems sent an email to McGraw on December 15, 2022, asking for an update on an incident that took place at the Oaks Mall in 2021, McGraw responded the same day and “terminated” Collins’ placement in her group home. The letter, addressed to Collins and signed by McGraw, said, “there comes a time when sometimes change is needed in this line of work, and your mom and you have expressed a desire for you to be closer to the family home.”

Letter sent to Collins from McGraw

Weems said she had already started working on getting him out of McGraw’s group home when she received the letter; Collins is now at her home in Panama City.

McGraw: “These statements are false”

In response to a request from Alachua Chronicle for comment on allegations that Collins lost a great deal of weight while living in her group home, that his mother was prevented from communicating with him, and that he registered to vote and actually voted while living in the group home, McGraw responded, “These statements are false and if anything is published, I will be pursuing legal action against all parties involved.” She sent a separate email to Weems, also threatening to sue her for “trying to destroy my character and negatively impact my business.”

  • McGraw is slippery as an eel. But whatever, the idiots in her district put her back on the school board. You can’t fix the stupid in this town.

    • Sleep well…it’s amazing how you all get on Facebook and say evil things about a woman who has helped so many kids in this town. But I hope you sleep well.

  • She just can’t ever seem to do anything up to normal standards. I bet the employees look even fatter than her after eating that poor man’s food and leaving him to go hungry.

    • You sound like an idiot!! Just jealous!!!
      This lady does not have any kids in the system and she works her but off helping others. I even heard she visits the schools all the time and the kids love her! The children are what matters, not stupid adults like you!!!

      • What a plant you are! The “lady” is collecting a full time paycheck for no effort! It takes zero effort to drive my car from one school to the next, park in a handicapped spot, and waddle my bu”” into the school where I demand all bow to me!

  • This is only one side of a story, but McGraw always seems to be on the wrong side any dispute. There looks to be enough information to warrant a state investigation, IMO.

  • The ADP Represenative needs to befully investigated along with McGraw on all the complaints . Do you think this gentelman was the only one escorted to the polls?Can you really trust someone that was in office illegaly , draw compensation and not pay back the taxpayers anything? Not sure how she is apparently getting away with that. Democrat Machine is alive and well in Alachua County smirking and laughing at the voting stock.

  • He may have been told who to vote for. Personally I don’t see a problem with it other than a person with diminished mental faculties may have been taken advantage of. Different animal if the caretakers filled out the ballot. If that’s the case, that’s fraud.
    The argument someone told him who to vote for is no different than the argument Kali Blount, Rodney Long & others have brought against certain conservative entities in telling voters how to vote when Single Member Districts was passed.
    I doubt there are many who can honestly claim that they have not been “told” how they should vote as well.

    Whatever the case, ironic that McGraw is throwing the big “S” out there again. That went so well for her last time.

      • Peabody, there’s quite a number of those individuals don’t you think?
        “Group homes are required by law to facilitate voting for residents who are qualified to vote,” also in the story. If you are a person with a mental disability and understand what it means to vote, federal law protects your right to vote. The laws that protect that right: The Constitution and the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12132; Doe v.

        I think the problem was addressed in the comment. Some may have misinterpreted? Just pointing out the argument made by democrats with regard to the single district results. Or is it people don’t want to actually admit that over the course of the past election cycle they weren’t told/read/communicated in some way who deserved their vote. If you read the Alachua Chronicle, the authors even provided their endorsements.
        Thought it was pretty clear but obviously not.

        • We’ve all been steered the wrong way by sleazy political advertisements at one time or another. That’s just the way it is. Only a professional crybaby like Kali Blount would even try to make that case. On the other hand, a mentally incompetent person being taken to the polls and being told whom to vote for by his caretaker (an authority figure) is obviously different. Did they threaten to withhold his food if he didn’t comply?

          • That’s the million dollar question…or at least the annual salary of a SBAC board member.
            Lots of Dem Crybabies in Alachua County. Kenny has already directed the county attorney to explore ways to get the measure back on the ballot. Rodney has made claims that voters in the community were intentionally misled as well. We, most of us anyway, know the reason – they’re afraid of losing their piwer over the community by actually allowing voters in districts elect people to represent them, NOT the liberal lunatics who populate Gainesville.

            Seems when things don’t go the way one desires, all sorts of allegations abound.

          • Their concerns might not fall on deaf ears if things were going well in Alachua County and Gainesville under their “leadership.” But they aren’t. As far as Cornell, anything he does should already be suspect because of his other employer’s recent track record of apparently-corrupt behavior. Is anyone investigating the fact that they ostensibly bribed the police?

          • Concerns aren’t falling on deaf ears, they’re being ignored because they don’t fall in line with leadership’s ideologies. Rural voters are tired of being ignored simply because they don’t live in Gainesville proper.
            I believe there was a lawsuit filed but if it settles, doubtful the whole truth will come out. We know how adept the city is at concealing things.

  • Need for a better investigation into this mess. Allegations of corruption should not be investigated by in county agencies. FDLE or outside law enforcement should investigation. Usually where is is smoke there is going to be a fire.

  • Group homes are the Dem jackpot election harvested utopia. Hence their party’s eager importing of illegal job stealers and drugs, which serves to increase demand for more Dem-run LLC sham ballot fed residences of citizen coping victims (who vote 95% for their oppressors) — with subsidized credit cards to shop at the Mall, to boot.

  • Rules & laws don’t apply to the Dems. They ignore them so they can get their so called ‘equity’.

    • I am not a democrat, but to sling mud at one party to the exclusion of others is laughable.

  • How much more of this corruption are we expected to take before the state takes action?

  • Meanwhile, our sleepy State Attorney yawns, rolls over and hibernates for the winter.

  • This article is all wrong. Destin was well taken care of and due to our line of work we can’t say anything but the truth will prevail AGAIN. Try to paint her as an evil black woman, we’re used to it!

    • Did Successful Living employees facilitate Mr. Collins voter registration and transportation to the polls?

      Did an employee assist Mr. Collins in the voting booth?

      Did you know he was not eligible to vote?

      • And which other group home residents did they “assist” with registering and voting? I think she owns at least one other group home.

  • GOP vote two or three times in different states where they have property, Demo take care of the poor and needy, Republicans send them to the streets with their fascist for the rich agenda !Chew on that, nazis !

    • Is that Stanley “no job” Williams? No jobs is usually the end result of Demo policies. Here, we have overpriced utilities because everyone was afraid not to listen to the backwoods, hippy-dippy, eco-grifter former mayor. And we have a lot of waste in city government. They probably keep City Hall locked up from the public because anyone would see a bunch of ladies sitting around at their desks, not doing a whole lot for most of the day because there is nothing to do. I have seen it myself (years ago). Most of their positions are unnecessary. Our current backwoods mayor (for about 2 more days) is an Antifa progressive communist soyboy who hates everything from God to the USA to anything remotely masculine or able-ist. Anything he could do to drive away businesses, he has done. That’s on top of the absurdly high commercial utility costs here. So, you see, it is DEMOCRATS who have messed things up here with the local economy. Focusing on bringing more and more mentally ill vagrants here and giving them free passes to threaten people, steal from stores, start fires in the streets, etc. has certainly not helped the local economy, either. Look at Miami – it’s the exact opposite in every way. RIP Demo party.

  • Mr. Collins may not be competent to vote but may make an excellent witness.

  • Lord here we o again. How is this going on. Who is behind this.spear campaign. They will not let this lady serve in peace..This people are just out for blood.🙏🙏

  • Threaten legal action and claim racism! Same Shi$ as usual with this person and anyone related to her!

    Unfortunately, all the calls for executive level (state) action against her will not happen unless someone documents and sends facts to the State!

    Just another day in the life of corrupt Democrats and WEAK Republican (no action) parties in Alachua County!

  • If this situation doesn’t call for drastic change I don’t know what would!
    Thus is a next level low for a politician acting in their own best interest, at the expense of the most vulnerable of our citizens! That’s the nicest way I can say it and be published in a forum. Shame on Mcgraw and anyone who enables her!
    Mcgraw and anything she is involved in should be thoroughly investigated, removed from office, and federally prosecuted for violating Collins civil rights for starters!

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