Father of slain Parkland student moves closer to seat on Board of Education
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 10/21/19-Ryan Petty, center, is joined by other families who lost loved ones in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

Ryan Petty's daughter, Alaina, was killed in the Parkland shooting.

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.


Sarah Mueller

Sarah Mueller has extensive experience covering public policy. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2010. She began her career covering local government in Texas, Georgia and Colorado. She returned to school in 2016 to earn a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting. Since then, she’s worked in public radio covering state politics in Illinois, Florida and Delaware. If you'd like to contact her, send an email to [email protected]

One comment

  • Charlotte Greenbarg

    March 2, 2020 at 2:40 pm

    Senator Braynon’s comments were insulting, demeaning and despicable. He’s still angry about disgraced Sheriff Scott Israel’s removal. And he has the lack of decency to say that because the Broward voters, who have proven to be less than discerning, didn’t elect him to the school board, then Mr.Petty shouldn’t serve on the state Board of Ed. This he says to a man whose daughter was slaughtered because the school system and former Sheriff Israel, among others, were derelict in their duties. I wish karma for you, Senator Braynon. Oh, and lest we forget, there was Senator Braynon’s dalliance with a female Senator, a lapse which has been conveniently forgotten by the press and the Senators’ colleagues. If they worked in private industry, they both would have been fired.

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