Governor Ron DeSantis has issued Executive Order 21-147, declaring Diyonne McGraw’s seat on the Alachua County School Board vacant. The vacancy is effective immediately. The order says the governor will fill the seat in compliance with the law.
In a press conference this evening, Jeff Childers said the order was issued at 5:11 p.m today, adding, “It is our position that the governor didn’t have a choice. The constitution requires the governor to fill a vacant school board seat when there is a vacancy, and it says exactly what a vacancy means, and in that statute and under the Florida Constitution, a vacancy shall occur when a member fails to maintain their residency in the district. The letter that we sent to the governor… just very simply said that the constitution and the statute say that there is a vacancy, and it’s his job to declare that vacancy and then fill it. So we’re very gratified that the governor agreed to carry out his constitutional and statutory duties and issue this order.”
Plaintiff Marlon Bruce said, “I want to thank the governor for upholding the law. Again, this was never a matter of left vs. right but rather right vs. wrong… Ms. McGraw was in her seat unlawfully, and the governor decided to take [this] action… For that, I am grateful, and I am thankful we have this resolution.”
Plaintiff Khahn-Lien Banko said, “I want to thank the governor for acting expeditiously when the matter came to his attention. This couldn’t have happened without the citizens of Alachua County who stood up to right a wrong, and I want to thank everyone who [supported us] and I want to thank Jeff… This is kind of step one, and I appreciate everybody’s support, and I especially appreciate the governor acting today.”
Childers said that he will speak to the plaintiffs before deciding whether to proceed with the remaining parts of their lawsuit, including a request that all previous 3-2 votes be voided if McGraw was in the majority. Childers also said he didn’t have much information about the process of appointing a replacement or how long it might take. The person who is appointed to fill the seat will finish out McGraw’s term.