Rocky Hanna, Leon Co. school superintendent who criticized Gov. DeSantis, could lose job
Rocky Hanna

Hanna
The administration is coming after the Leon superintendent's teaching certificate as well.

Florida officials are threatening to revoke the teaching license of a school superintendent who criticized Gov. Ron DeSantis, accusing the educator of violating several statutes and DeSantis directives and allowing his “personal political views” to guide his leadership.

Such a revocation by the state Department of Education could allow DeSantis to remove Leon County Superintendent Rocky Hanna from his elected office. The Republican Governor did that last year to an elected Democratic prosecutor in the Tampa Bay area who disagreed with his positions limiting abortion and medical care for transgender teens and indicated he might not enforce new laws in those areas.

Disney also sued DeSantis this week, saying he targeted its Orlando theme parks for retribution after it criticized the governor’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law that then banned the discussion of sexuality and gender in early grades, but has since been expanded.

Hanna has publicly opposed that law, once defied the governor’s order that barred any mandate that students wear masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, and criticized a DeSantis-backed bill that recently passed that will pay for students to attend private school. The Leon County district, with about 30,000 students, covers Tallahassee, the state capital, and its suburbs.

“It’s a sad day for democracy in Florida, and the First Amendment right to freedom of speech, when a state agency with unlimited power and resources, can target a local elected official in such a biased fashion,” Hanna said in a statement sent to The Associated Press and other media Thursday. A Democrat then running as an independent, Hanna was elected to a second four-year term in 2020 with 60% of the vote. He plans to run for reelection next year and does not need a teacher’s license to hold the job.

“This investigation has nothing to do with these spurious allegations, but rather everything to do with attempting to silence myself and anyone else who speaks up for teachers and our public schools in a way that does not fit the political narrative of those in power,” Hanna said.

He said the investigation was spurred by a single complaint from a leader of the local chapter of Moms for Liberty, a conservative education group, requesting his removal.

“We are fighting tirelessly with our local school board to no avail,” Brandi Andrews wrote DeSantis, citing Hanna’s mask mandate, his opposition to the state’s new education laws and directives and his public criticism of the governor. She noted that she had appeared in a DeSantis reelection TV commercial.

Her letter was stamped “Let’s Go Brandon,” a code used by some conservatives to replace a vulgar chant made against President Joe Biden. DeSantis is expected to soon announce he will seek the Republican nomination to challenge Biden in next year’s election. Andrews issued a statement saying her complaint against Hanna was one of many.

Education department spokesman Alex Lanfranconi said in a statement that while officials would not discuss the Hanna investigation in detail, “nothing about this case is special.”

“Any teacher with an extensive history of repeated violations of Florida law would be subject to consequences up to and including losing their educator certificate,” he said. The threatened revocation was first reported by the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper.

Before any punishment is meted out, Hanna can have a hearing before an administrative judge, attempt to negotiate a settlement or surrender his license. He said in his statement he has not decided what he will do.

Hanna received a letter from Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. earlier this month saying an investigation found probable cause that he violated a 2021 DeSantis directive barring districts from mandating that students wear COVID-19 masks. Hanna required students to wear masks after a Leon third grader died of the disease early that school year. The fight went on for several months until Leon and several other districts had their legal challenge rejected by the courts.

Diaz also cited a memo Hanna issued before this school year telling teachers, “You do You!” and to teach the way they always had, allegedly giving instructors approval to ignore new laws enacted by DeSantis and the Legislature. That includes the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law, which supporters call the “Parental Rights in Education Act.”

His letter also cites the district’s failure for one month in 2020 to have an armed guard or police officer at every school as required after the 2018 Parkland high school massacre. Hanna said then that there weren’t enough available officers to meet that requirement and the education department cleared him of wrongdoing.

Diaz also complains that parents were told that their children could get an excused absence if they chose to attend a February student protest at the state capitol opposing DeSantis’ education policies.

Offering students a “free day off of school” to attend the rally “is another example of (Hanna) failing to distinguish his political views from the standards taught in Florida schools,” Diaz wrote.

Associated Press


9 comments

  • Billy the Bamboozler

    April 28, 2023 at 7:24 am

    Mini Hitler strikes again..

  • Chuck Anziulewicz

    April 28, 2023 at 7:29 am

    Margaret Atwood was right. Florida is becoming Ron DeSantis’ personal Gilead.

  • Leonard

    April 28, 2023 at 7:45 am

    There are consequences for your actions.

  • Michael K

    April 28, 2023 at 7:45 am

    Read that letter from the so-called “mom for liberty” and her fawning over Casey DeSantis and appearance in a DeSantis TV ad.

    Rocky Hanna does not deserve this – nor do the people he serves.

    Wake up, people. This administration is off the rails.

  • Earl Pitts American

    April 28, 2023 at 8:48 am

    Good morning dook 4 brains lefties,
    We would love to flush our stinky +urd$ down the [email protected] in secret every morning with a cup of coffee, but fortunatly public business of The Great State of Florida must be conducted in the public realm, of the bright sunshine here in The Great State of Florida.
    We’ve got nothing to hide and lie about like is common practice in the States ran by dook 4 brains leftists.
    Sure doing such necessary government functions such as in the case of this Mr. Hanna opens The Great State of Florida up to childish fake news chastizing, snarky comments by dook 4 brains key board warriors, and a host of other things totally in keeping with the freedoms we are blessed with in The Greatest Nation on The Planet. But in the end dook 4 brains lefties are and always will be dook 4 brains lefties. They will always be with us and they will benifit greatly under the leadership of whoever the next conservative POTUS to be elected into office in 2024 will be.
    And dont forget dook 4 brains lefties, allthough we will never love you, we will tolerate you.
    Thank you America
    Earl Pitts “School Board Advisor” American

  • Dave

    April 28, 2023 at 9:13 am

    “It’s a sad day for democracy in Florida, and the First Amendment right to freedom of speech, when a state agency with unlimited power and resources, can target a local elected official in such a biased fashion,”

    So when a state agency follows the law it is abuse of power, but when you refuse to follow the law and publicly state that you will deny every charter school application without regard to its merits, in defiance of the law, that’s standing up for what is right?

    He’s already been redressed by the State Board of Education once, if not twice, for his shenanigans and should have been removed years ago.

  • Greg

    April 28, 2023 at 9:19 am

    This is what fascism looks like.

  • Sierra Bush Rester

    April 28, 2023 at 9:58 pm

    This is fascist retaliation for Rocky not even really standing up, but simply following federal masking guidelines. Disgusting.

  • Rob Desantos

    May 10, 2023 at 2:00 pm

    Straight up authoritarianism.

Comments are closed.


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