TALLAHASSEE — A special master Monday backed a request by suspended Okaloosa County Superintendent of Schools Mary Beth Jackson to require Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office to provide more information about why she was removed from her job.
Special master Dudley Goodlette, who was appointed by Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, to oversee Jackson’s appeal of her suspension, held an initial case-management conference to resolve procedural issues.
Attorney George Levesque, who represents Jackson, asked for what is known as a “bill of particulars” that would provide more detail about DeSantis’ rationale for suspending the superintendent last month. He pointed to “nebulous allegations” against Jackson.
Nick Primrose, an attorney for DeSantis, disagreed that the governor’s executive order suspending Jackson was “barebones,” but he did not object to providing more-specific charges.
“I will tell you that I am disposed to require the statement of particulars to be provided,” Goodlette, a former state House member from Collier County, said. “I think that’s certainly in the best interest of the process going forward.”
In issuing the executive order to suspend Jackson, DeSantis pointed, in part, to child-abuse allegations against an Okaloosa County teacher and grand jury findings that were critical of Jackson. The executive order said Jackson failed to “provide adequate, necessary and frequent training, a lack of supervision of school district personnel and a failure to implement adequate safeguards, policies and reporting requirements to protect the safety and well-being of the students.”
Under state law, suspended officials can go to the Senate to seek to be reinstated. Goodlette said he would like to move quickly in the appeal, stressing that senators need to be able to address the issue before the scheduled May 3 end of the annual legislative session.