Moms for Liberty and DeSantis Expand Educator Purge

The book-banning right-wing Moms for Liberty also promotes school board takeovers, which are often followed by the firing of school superintendents, even in school districts with high educational ratings. Now Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration is using a Moms for Liberty complaint as cover for a political attack on the career of another Florida school superintendent who has been critical of the governor, according to news reports this week and a statement released Thursday by the targeted superintendent.

Leon County Superintendent Rocky Hanna is an elected official; he cannot be fired by the school board, only rejected by voters. That’s where the governor comes in. Moms for Liberty activist Brandi Alexander, identifying herself as an executive board member of the local chapter, wrote to DeSantis last year urging him to remove Hanna, something DeSantis has done to other public officials who displeased him.

In the letter—stamped with “Let’s Go Brandon,” which is code for “F*** Joe Biden”—Alexander complained about a morale-boosting email Hanna sent to teachers in which he said, “I will always have your back!” and urged teachers “to continue to teach the standards just as you have always done” without worrying about the “naysayers.” He summarized that thought with the phrase, “You do You!”

DeSantis Education Commissioner Manny Diaz claimed in an early April letter to Hanna that the phrase “you do you” is probable cause to “justify sanction” against Hanna’s Florida educator certificate. Diaz also cited Hanna’s opposition to DeSantis’ ban on school mask mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Tallahassee Democrat reported that possible penalties DeSantis’ administration could levy against Hanna include “a reprimand, fine, probation, restriction of practice, suspension of no more than five years, revocation of no more than 10 years or a permanent revocation of his teaching license.”

Hanna was informed of the education department’s investigation on Christmas Eve last year. In a January statement, he said the investigation has “no merit” whatsoever, writing, “I have always tried my best to be a champion for our children and to do things the right way in accordance with the law.”

The attack on Hanna reflects DeSantis’ authoritarian approach to governing and his intolerance for criticism. Of the 12 school districts that defied DeSantis’s ban on COVID-19 mask requirements, only five are still led by the same superintendents, according to NPR-affiliate WUSF. As The Daily Beast noted:

Shocking dismissals haven’t been limited to local school boards. DeSantis has become infamous for targeting any official who speaks out against him—denouncing “cancel culture” while canceling any voice in Florida that opposes him.

Other officials ousted by DeSantis included Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren, who was removed from his elected position for his stance on abortion; the entire board for Disney’s self-governing Reedy Creek Improvement District, which were replaced with Republican donors; and the trustees to the New College of Florida, who promptly fired the university’s president and hired a DeSantis ally to replace him—giving the position a massive raise in the process.

“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 an elected official in such a biased fashion,” Hanna said Thursday in a press statement.

The threat to Hanna’s career is part of a multi-pronged effort by DeSantis and his allies to restrict the freedom to learn in Florida and indoctrinate students with right-wing ideology.

 

The book-banning right-wing Moms for Liberty also promotes school board takeovers, which are often followed by the firing of school superintendents, even in school districts with high educational ratings. Now Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration is using a Moms for Liberty complaint as cover for a political attack on the career of another Florida school…

The book-banning right-wing Moms for Liberty also promotes school board takeovers, which are often followed by the firing of school superintendents, even in school districts with high educational ratings. Now Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration is using a Moms for Liberty complaint as cover for a political attack on the career of another Florida school…