Behind-The-Scenes Fight For School Board





Many treat the Broward School Board with disdain.

Parents think so little of traditional public schools that they are enrolling their kids by the thousands in charters.

The system has yet to shake its image – highlighted by two Grand Jury reports — as a morass of inside deals and wasted money.

Members complain they have little power in a school system run by entrenched bureaucrats who stonewall when ordered to change their ways. That doesn’t stop the members from holding verbose, meaningless meetings that stretch for hours.

And members next year could go down in Broward history as the politicians who voted for a huge tax increase.  They are expected to ask voters to approve a bond issue of up to $1 billion.

Those are a lot of reasons not to join the School Board. So why is there a ferocious battle for an open seat on the Board?

This fight is even stranger because it involves a term of only a year – until November 2014.  The person appointed will have to immediately begin campaigning if they want to hold on to the seat beyond then.

All the “campaigning” now is taking place out of the sunshine, behind-the-scenes because it involves convincing only one person – Gov. Rick Scott.  Scott will fill the open Fort Lauderdale-based seat being given up by Katie Leach, who is quitting to join her husband in California.

So those who want the job and their supporters are scouring Broward for anyone who can recommend them to Scott.

Little is in writing.

Instead, Scott’s patronage chiefs are being bombarded with phone calls. These insiders are being buttonholed at every opportunity.

Eventually, these folks will whisper their recommendations into Scott’s ear.

My guess is that Scott will appoint somebody who will embrace the governor’s education programs publicly or at least not be hostile to the policies.

Snuggling up to Scott’s platform won’t be popular in Broward.  Leach’s District 3 has 69,390 Democrats, 49,352 Republicans and 38,445 independents,  which indicates how difficult it will be to elect a Republican if the Democrats have a decent candidate.

But you can’t expect Scott to appoint someone who is opposed to his education stance.

Who will that appointee be?

The candidates for now are:

*Heather Brinkworth, a former Stranahan graduate, teacher at the same school and later a middle school teacher.  A number of east side education activists including Leach and former state Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff are pushing Brinkworth, who is the chair of the Fort Lauderdale’s city education advisory committee.

*Wanda Ross, wife of former Chief Judge Dale Ross and a retired teacher and principal. She has the support of some of the older Fort Lauderdale crowd, many of whom are Scott supporters.

*Alexis Yarbrough, former Department of Transportation General Counsel and wife of former Broward Republican Chair Shane Strum, who is now a vice chancellor of Keiser University.  One problem is that Strum once worked for the candidate opposing Scott — Charlie Crist.  Strum was Gov. Crist’s chief of staff. Still, Yarbrough has support from many Republican activists, including GOP heavyweight Ed Pozzuoli, managing partner of Tripp Scott.

Harry Moon, a long-time Fort Lauderdale plastic surgeon who is rumored to be the choice of the downtown business community.

Others include  Roberto Fernandez,  a high school social studies teacher and the Broward social studies teacher of the year in 2013.  Then there is  John Perez, a member of Broward schools facilities task force, and Thomas Glaser, a teacher at Mater Academy Charter High School in Miami-Dade County and a former Miami-Dade teacher and administrator.

More rumored candidates may surface.

Good luck to these folks….maybe.

This is a case when the old adage applies: Be careful of what you wish for because you just might get it.

6 Responses to “Behind-The-Scenes Fight For School Board”

  1. Sweet Chuck says:

    Why in the world would the governor appoint someone with the Crist campaign? He may be a republican but he is smarter than that.

  2. Camel's-nose-in-the-tent theory says:

    YARBOROUGH??? Married to Charlie Crist’s COS??? Supported by the biggest apologist for Charlie (also the one who can make the fastest about-face) in history – POZZUOLI???? NOT!!!

  3. Gen Sherman says:

    Based on the herald you are batting 1:3.

  4. Owl says:

    Shane was an important member of Governor Scott’s Transition Team. He was Governor Crist’s Chief of Staff but stayed on in the Scott administration for several months until he took the Vice Chancellor job at Kaiser College. I would expect Alexis to get the appointment if she really wants it.

  5. Camel's-nose-in-the-tent theory says:

    Ed you actually post as “Owl”???
    Get over it. Your day was done when you first supported Charlie Crist. And we all know you never stopped.

  6. Tom Becks says:

    Buddy, no surprise here right? It’s always been this way, jobs where someone can use nepotism or just hire there friends abound in Florida, in fact I believe we are the reason the phrase “good old boy network” came to be to start with. Seeing it’s governor Scott does not surprise me at all. He is the same guy who travels the state opening Bass Super stores and the like right? Will keep an eye on this story.