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Lee County school board member asks DeSantis to investigate school district

Reporter: Sydney Persing Writer: Melissa Montoya
Published: Updated:

A Lee County School Board member has asked Gov. Ron DeSantis to investigate The School District of Lee County for “waste, fraud and abuse.”

Board member Gwynetta S. Gittens said the school district is “in crisis” and accuses the District of Sunshine law violations, misuse of public positions, employment discrimination, financial mismanagement, fraud and abuses of power, according to a news release.

“I implore you to investigate the Lee County School District, the Lee County superintendent of schools and the Lee County School Board for the sake of the children and taxpayers of Lee County,” said Gittens, who represents District 5, which includes much of east Lee County.

Gittens said the District is breaching the public trust by violating Florida Statutes and financially mismanaging the District.

“Board members are putting their personal agendas before children and the proper management of taxpayer money, time, and resources,” Gittens said. “There is definitely a need for an investigation.”

“According to the Oath of Ethics, I swore a fiduciary duty to provide oversight and to report any concerns that I observe. I have to no avail consistently brought these concerns to a non-responsive board, only to be met with increasing retaliation,” Gittens said.

On March 23, Gittens told the District and its other board members during a meeting that she intended to send a letter to DeSantis if proper steps weren’t taken.

“Don’t think I don’t see, even through the masks, that I don’t see the looks, the disdain, the ‘I wish she would shut up,'” Gittens said during the meeting. “I’m not going to … I will go down with a fight.”

Gittens declined to comment on the specifics of her allegations when reached by WINK News Tuesday. She said she would do an interview at a later date, but during a board meeting last week, she took issue with the way the school board was handling complaints against the board.

“Only the governor and the attorney general should be investigating board members,” she said at the time.

Gittens called an external investigation a waste of taxpayer dollars.

“If there is an appetite to do this investigation and I am outvoted, I will be presenting information, and I will place a complaint with the Governor and the attorney general’s office as to all the things that continue to happen,” she said.

A spokesperson for the Lee County school district declined to comment because they have not read the letter. Multiple school board members also declined to comment when reached Tuesday.