Ryan Petty’s appointment to the State Board of Education moved one step closer Monday when a key Senate panel advanced his confirmation.
Petty, who is being appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, is the father of a student killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County more than two years ago. The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee recommended Petty’s confirmation, who now needs the full Senate to approve his appointment.
Petty is a senior executive of Cable & Wireless Communications. He’s been a school safety activist since his daughter, Alaina, was among the 17 people murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018.
Former Gov. Rick Scott appointed Petty to serve on the state school-safety commission established after the massacre. He unsuccessfully ran for the Broward County School Board. Lori Alhadeff, a mother who also lost a daughter in the Parkland shooting won the seat.
Petty has been outspoken on Twitter. During the race, he posted some controversial tweets, including some disparaging comments about public schools and public employee unions. At the time, he said he regretted that some of the tweets had been taken out of context.
Petty received praise from some of the Republicans on the committee, while facing questions from some of the Democrats.
Hialeah Republican Sen. Manny Diaz Jr. told Petty that he cares “about our education system as a whole, not just school safety.” Diaz chairs the Senate Education Committee.
Democratic Miami Gardens Sen. Oscar Braynon asked Petty why lawmakers should approve his appointment when voters decided not to elect him to the local school board.
“The people of Broward made a decision, and they made a decision not to elect Mr. Petty,” he said.
DeSantis nominated him in January. Petty would be filling a vacancy that’s been open for about a year. Another Parkland father, Andrew Pollack, was appointed to the Board of Education by Scott. But DeSantis retracted 46 of Scott’s appointments in January 2019.