After the Florida Supreme Court ruled against suspended Okaloosa County Superintendent of Schools Mary Beth Jackson last week, the legal battle over her ouster is ready to start again in the state Senate.
Senate Special Master Dudley Goodlette is scheduled to hold a pre-hearing conference Tuesday as he prepares to consider Jackson’s challenge to her suspension by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The Senate case was put into abeyance when Jackson also challenged DeSantis in the Supreme Court. But justices ruled last week that the Governor acted within his authority when he suspended her.
The dispute is playing out in the Legislature because the state Constitution gives the Senate the power to reinstate or remove elected officials from office.
Senate President Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, appointed Goodlette, a lawyer and former state House member, to serve as a special master who will hear the case.
DeSantis stripped Jackson of her post less than a week after he was sworn into office, citing grand-jury reports that alleged “dereliction of duty.”
Jackson’s suspension was based, in part, on allegations that a teacher abused developmentally challenged pre-kindergarten students at an elementary school during the 2015-2016 school year.
Grand-jury reports alleged that Jackson, among other things, failed to implement proper procedures for reporting abuse to the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Education and failed to implement a proper procedure for removing teachers facing allegations involving the health or safety of students.