Florida superintendent who defied DeSantis by pushing masks in schools gets ousted

A Florida school superintendent who defied Gov. Ron DeSantis on pandemic masks for students has been fired by the local school board.

The 3-2 vote to terminate the contract of Carlee Simon came late Tuesday night by the Alachua County school board.

A key vote for termination was that of board member Mildred Russell, who was appointed in August by the Republican governor to replace a member who did not live within her district.

In a statement prior to the vote, Simon called it retribution for her stance against DeSantis and his opposition to mask mandates in Florida schools. Alachua County was one of about a dozen districts that risked loss of state funding by requiring masks during the coronavirus pandemic.

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"The unprecedented partisan attack on what should be non-partisan officials is compromising the education of county children," Simon said.

The Alachua County school board chair, Robert Hyatt, said there are more problems facing the system that a new superintendent could better tackle.

"Things are not working for our school system," Hyatt said during Tuesday night's meeting.

The board appointed the deputy superintendent, Donna Jones, as a temporary replacement with a March 15 vote planned on a new superintendent.