Tallahassee-Area Superintendent Becomes Latest Target Of A DeSantis Political Stunt

Jennifer Pippin, president of the Indian River County chapter of Moms for freedom, attends Jacqueline Rosario's campaign event in Vero Beach, Florida on October 16, 2022. - Rosario's candidacy for re-election to a sc... Jennifer Pippin, president of the Indian River County chapter of Moms for freedom, attends Jacqueline Rosario's campaign event in Vero Beach, Florida on October 16, 2022. - Rosario's candidacy for re-election to a school board is supported by the controversial group "Moms for Liberty", which claims to defend the "rights of parents" but is accused by its critics of opposing LGBT rights. Long dormant and apolitical institutions, these councils, whose members are elected, have become real powder kegs with the politicization of subjects such as the discussion of gender or sexuality in schools, or the teaching of racism. Education has been at the heart of some mid-term elections. (Photo by Giorgio VIERA / AFP) (Photo by GIORGIO VIERA/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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Governor Ron DeSantis’s administration has apparently chosen a new target for his next stunt, aimed at an audience of Fox News hosts: a school administrator.

Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna is under “preliminary investigation” by the state education department for allegedly letting politics influence his work, according to a letter obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat. Hanna later confirmed details of the newspaper’s report to TPM.

“On Christmas Eve, while getting ready to go to church with my family, I received a certified letter from the Florida Department of Education informing me that I was under investigation for my ‘personal views,'” he told TPM in a statement.

Randy Kosec, chief of professional practices at the Florida Department of Education, sent Hanna a letter on Dec. 22 notifying him that he’d failed to take “reasonable precautions to distinguish your personal views and those of your educational institution,” the newspaper reported.

The letter said Hanna is being investigated by the Office of Professional Practices Services (PPS), the Tallahassee Democrat reported. The office investigates alleged misconduct by Florida educators to determine whether the allegations require “disciplinary actions.”

Hanna has critiqued DeSantis publicly, and, in an email that he sent to Leon County School staff back in August, urged school staff not to worry about DeSantis’s efforts to defang social justice initiatives in school syllabi. “You do you!” he wrote, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

“Continue to teach the standards just as you have always done and do not worry for one minute about naysayers, political and others, who are trying to mislead people and control what you can and cannot say in your classroom,” the email said, according to the newspaper. “If someone wants to come after you, they will have to go through us and our attorneys.” Hanna told TPM that he believes this email triggered the investigation.

Hanna has run afoul of the administration before: The governor’s office threatened “maximum” sanctions against school leaders who bucked his ban on mandatory masking in schools after Hanna reinstated his district’s mandate back in 2021.

PPS has requested that Hanna provide any “evidentiary witnesses or documents pertinent to the case” within two weeks of the letter’s date, the newspaper reported.

In a statement to TPM, Hanna said that he believes the investigation “has no merit whatsoever.”

“For the last 6 years, I have worked hard to support and advocate for our teachers and our traditional public schools,” he said. “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.

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