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Ron DeSantis plans to hit the ground running on several issues. (Image via Colin Hackley)

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Okaloosa Superintendent challenges DeSantis’s suspension

Ron DeSantis’ crackdown on local officials meets resistance.

Five days after being suspended by Gov. Ron DeSantis, Okaloosa County Superintendent of Schools Mary Beth Jackson on Wednesday requested a formal hearing from the Florida Senate to challenge DeSantis’ decision.

Under state law, suspended officials can go to the Senate to seek to be reinstated.

In a one-page letter Wednesday, Jackson’s attorney, George Levesque, said Senate President Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, has the discretion to assign the case to a committee or to a special master.

Levesque said Jackson is asking that a special master be appointed to preside over the hearing.

The letter said Jackson is “disputing all of the allegations contained” in DeSantis’ executive order suspending her.

In the executive order issued Friday, DeSantis said he was suspending Jackson on the recommendation of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran.

The governor pointed, in part, to child-abuse allegations against an Okaloosa County teacher and grand jury findings that were critical of Jackson.

The executive order said Jackson failed to “provide adequate, necessary and frequent training, a lack of supervision of school district personnel and a failure to implement adequate safeguards, policies and reporting requirements to protect the safety and well-being of the students.”

Galvano sent a memo to senators Friday outlining the procedures for dealing with suspensions. He also advised senators against discussing suspensions.

“In my view, since we are tasked by Florida’s Constitution to sit in judgment of the merits of a suspension, senators should refrain from speaking publicly about the merits or substance of any executive suspension,” the memo said.

The News Service of Florida provides journalists, lobbyists, government officials and other civic leaders with comprehensive, objective information about the activities of state government year-round.

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