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Florida Supreme Court Grants DeSantis’ Request to Impanel Statewide Grand Jury on School Safety

February 26, 2019 - 9:00am

The Florida Supreme Court on Monday issued an order directing the impanelment of a statewide grand jury on school safety. The order comes after Gov. Ron DeSantis filed a petition with the court on Feb. 13 requesting the grand jury.

“We know Broward has to be looked at. I don’t know if Hamilton County needs to be,” DeSantis said in announcing his request while surrounded by families who lost children in the Parkland shooting. “There’s more evidence in Broward than other districts. ...

“I am pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision to impanel a statewide grand jury to review school safety measures throughout our state,” said DeSantis. “As I have said before, the safety of our children is paramount. This grand jury will work to investigate practices, identify failures and recommend solutions to keep students, teachers and staff safe in our schools.”

The statewide grand jury will investigate any offense within Florida Statute § 905.34 that relates to, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Whether refusal or failure to follow the mandates of school-related safety laws, such as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, results in unnecessary and avoidable risk to students across the state;

  • Whether public entities committed -- and continue to commit -- fraud and deceit by accepting state funds conditioned on implementation of certain safety measures while knowingly failing to act;

  • Whether school officials committed -- and continue to commit -- fraud and deceit by mismanaging, failing to use, and diverting funds from multimillion-dollar bonds specifically solicited for school safety initiatives; and

  • Whether school officials violated -- and continue to violate -- state law by systematically underreporting incidents of criminal activity to the Florida Department of Education. 

The grand jury will be impaneled for a term of 12 months with jurisdiction throughout the State of Florida. The jury will be drawn from the certified jury lists submitted by the chief judges of the Eleventh, Fifteenth and Seventeenth Judicial Circuits.

The Honorable Jack B. Tuter, Jr., chief judge of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, is designated as presiding judge and will receive all indictments, presentments and formal returns by the statewide grand jury. John A. Tomasino, clerk of the Supreme Court of Florida, is designated clerk of the grand jury and will oversee all administrative functions.

For a PDF copy of the unanimous order, click HERE.

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