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DeSantis Appoints Parkland Father To State Board Of Education

Emily Michot
Miami Herald
Ryan Petty and Lori Alhadeff announce their run for Broward County school board in 2018, after each of their daughters was killed in the Parkland school shooting. Petty lost the election, but now he has been appointed to the state Board of Education.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday appointed Ryan Petty to the Florida Board of Education, subject to state Senate approval.

Petty’s 14-year-old daughter Alaina was murdered in the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and he has since become a national advocate for school safety reforms.

Petty founded a nonprofit called the WalkUp Foundation. The organization’s mission is to persuade students to “walk up” to their peers who seem like they need a friend and seek help from adults if necessary.

He has also held a seat on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, a state investigative entity created to identify what went wrong before, during and after the Parkland shooting and recommend policy changes to prevent future massacres. Petty said he expects to keep that position if confirmed to the Board of Education.

“As we’ve learned on the commission, the Department of Education plays a role in ensuring that the districts in the state are taking school safety seriously and are complying with state law,” Petty said, “so I take a keen interest in that.”

Petty also ran unsuccessfully for a county-wide seat on the Broward school board in 2018.

Petty serves as an executive at Cable & Wireless Communications, an international telecommunications company. Previously, he was vice president of product development and innovation at ADT, Inc., a security monitoring and alarm provider. Before joining large corporations, he worked for technology startups, an experience he said will inform his work on the Board of Education.

Petty is a Republican and has supported GOP candidates, including DeSantis during the 2018 gubernatorial election.

Before leaving office, former Republican Gov. Rick Scott, now a U.S. Senator, appointed a different Parkland father to the Board of Education: Andrew Pollack, who lost his 18-year-old daughter Meadow in the shooting. DeSantis rescinded that appointment before it was considered by the Senate.

The Board of Education regulates all K-12 schools and community colleges in Florida.

Jessica Bakeman is Director of Enterprise Journalism at WLRN News, and she is the former senior news editor and education reporter. Her 2021 project "Class of COVID-19" won a national Edward R. Murrow Award.
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