- Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed a bill nullifying a previously-standing resolution that gave the Hernando County School Board the authority to select its Superintendent of Schools.
- The bill, pending a referendum vote in 2024, aims to restore the practice of electing the Superintendent in a partisan race, with the first elected term starting in 2028.
- The decision to overturn the resolution follows controversies involving Superintendent John Stratton and a teacher showing an unapproved movie, leading to calls for Stratton’s resignation due to alleged violations of parental rights.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a measure into law on Friday that nullifies a standing resolution that governs the selection process of the Superintendent of Schools in Hernando County.
The resolution, which was approved by the voters during the March 1992 presidential primary, granted the Hernando County School Board the authority to designate the county’s Superintendent. This resolution is nullified by Friday’s bill signing, which restores the superintendent election, pending a referendum vote.
If approved in the referendum, which is to be held during the 2024 primary election, the bill will restore the practice of electing the Hernando County Superintendent of Schools. The elected superintendent’s initial term will commence with the 2028 general election.
The governor’s decision to overturn the resolution comes amidst recent controversies involving Superintendent John Stratton and a fifth-grade teacher who garnered attention after showing the unapproved Disney movie Strange World to students. Calls for Stratton’s resignation have been made by residents who cite trepidations regarding alleged violations of parental rights in county schools.
These concerns were expressed in a joint statement by three Florida legislators representing the area — Senator Blaise Ingoglia and Representatives Jeff Holcomb and John Temple.
“Today, we are collectively calling for the resignation of Hernando Schools Superintendent John Stratton. It is clear to us that Superintendent Stratton has lost the confidence of parents, grandparents, and our community,” said the trio of lawmakers. “We can no longer sit back and allow the Hernando County School System to make national news for its poor decisions, lack of transparency and accountability, and its contempt for parental rights. Whether it is pornographic material in our schools, not notifying parents when their children may have been around an alleged pedophile, or allowing a teacher back in the classroom after threatening to kill students, it is clear to us that change is needed, and it is needed now.”
Though school board members voted 3-2 in favor of retaining Stratton in May, an online petition seeking the removal of school board member Shannon Rodriguez has amassed over 25,000 signatures.