Second Figure In Probe Of Schools Dies


A second key figure in the probe of the Broward School Board’s construction program has died just days after his boss.

Tom Coates, the facilities director who was involved in numerous controversial decisions of the Board, apparently died of a heart attack over the weekend.

Michael Garretson, the school system’s construction chief who Coates reported to at the Board, died late last week in St. Augustine during a cardiac operation. 

It is not known how the death of two potential key witnesses in the probe of the School Board wrongdoing will affect the investigation.

Coates was involved with decisions concerning Prestige Homes, the Tamarac development on two golf courses now under investigation by the State Attorney’s Office.

School Board member Stephanie Kraft’s husband Mitch Kraft worked for the developer. That relationship is under investigation, according to printed reports.

According to the Sun-Sentinel in October, “When the district tried to get more money out of Prestige because of a rise in impact fees, (Prestige developer Bruce) Chait called Facilities Management Director Tom Coates and said, ‘he had hired two lawyers, one of whom was identified by him as Mitch Kraft, to obtain the earlier reduction,’ Coates wrote in a memo of the call.

Coates, who was in charge of land acquisition, also had a role in the purchase of millions of dollars of swamp land in Southwest Ranches which later proved unsuitable for a school.

He was intitimately involved in the unsuccessful effort to build a new high school in Weston.  Instead, Coates department engineered the purchase of land near U. S. 27 in Hollywood for a new $125 million-plus school.

Coates was also one of those behind leasing tens of thousands of square feet of rental space in Sunrise from political insider Terry Stiles.  Critics say the deal is a waste of money and the employees who work in Sunrise could have offices in vacant space the school system owns.

6 Responses to “Second Figure In Probe Of Schools Dies”

  1. Educator says:

    Anybody checking for poison?

  2. Da Gotts says:

    As a long past yet very wise SBBC leader once taught, the SBBC eats it’s own. two down, how many more need to go through the stresses to comply with board member and top level executives’ demands over the years?
    Will an ethics czar really change the entire culture?
    Doubt it.

  3. Concerned Broward Parent says:

    When will they all learn?

  4. Death, Taxes and Jail says:

    The Broward County School Board has become a drama of death, taxes and jail. Coates and Garretson both died from the stress caused by corrupt board members forcing to make dishonest executive decisions.

    They were forbidden from serving the public faithfully. That is the price they paid for the paychecks they collected.

    Those that have escaped death from worry of prosecution are yet to be prosecuted or already going to jail. Meanwhile residents are paying much higher taxes than we should and our children are getting a much worse education than they deserve.

    Unless we rise up to take that school system back and make it perform for us then this community has no hope for a future.

  5. Hammerhead says:

    R.I.P. Mr. Coates. You were a good man in my eyes.

  6. Staff Corruption at School Board says:

    They need to probe deeper. There are more staff members in Mr Coates’ former department that are aware of misdealings at the district. I heard one director even bought a home in a newly constructed development the district collected impact fees on. Blatant conflict of interest!