Karla Hernandez, Charlie Crist’s running mate, criticized over special ed comments

Reporter: Emma Heaton

Karla Hernandez, Charlie Crist’s running mate, is facing backlash after a comment she made comparing her special ed teaching to Florida’s “dysfunctional” legislature.

“I’m a special-ed teacher, so my major is emotionally-handicapped education, OK? That by itself qualifies me to deal with a dysfunctional legislature,” said the Democratic lieutenant governor nominee.

She made the comments during a campaign house party on Wednesday night.

WINK News asked Crist about it during an interview, but he didn’t answer the question.

Crist had to know about the mounting criticism Hernandez is getting for the comments.

Hernandez has experience teaching children who have special needs.

Angela Katz, the executive director of LARC, a local training center for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, won’t talk politics but said the comparison between special needs and the word dysfunctional is just wrong.

“I think it’s offensive to families,” Katz said. “We see all of our children very special no matter what, and I think that we all have different characteristics about ourselves that are very unique to other people as well, right? So we’re not all made equally or the same.”

Casey DeSantis, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ wife, posted to Twitter saying she was “sickened by callous words from someone who claims to be an advocate for children.”

Casey DeSantis said she would make it her mission to let all the parents know of “the hate in your heart.”

On Thursday, Crist held a news conference.

WINK News asked him about what his running mate said.

“We’re dealing with a serious topic right now. Let’s stay on this topic and continue to be serious,” he said.

The chairman of the Collier County Democratic Party told WINK News she thinks Hernandez was trying to make the point that the Florida Legislature isn’t like other legislatures and said it’s done things that were totally unpredictable.

Hernandez has not commented on the criticism over her statement.

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