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Following resignation, DeSantis slated to get another appointee on Miami-Dade School Board

Daniel A. Varela / Miami Herald
Miami-Dade County School Board Member Lubby Navarro is resigning her seat in response to a new state law restricting elected officials from also working as lobbyists.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is slated to get another appointment on the Miami-Dade County School Board, after a member resigned her seat due to a new constitutional amendment that restricts elected officials from also working as lobbyists.

Politicians across the state are having to pick between their day job and their elected office. Lubby Navarro chose to give up her seat on the Miami-Dade County School Board, which she’s held since then-Gov. Rick Scott appointed her in 2015.

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Navarro is a registered lobbyist for the South Broward Hospital District and had recently been elected in a five to four vote to be the school board’s new vice chair.

In her resignation letter, Navarro cited the new law, which went into effect Dec. 31, as the reason she decided to step down.

Under state law, DeSantis will get to pick someone to replace her — getting his second appointee on the board overseeing the state’s largest school district.

With endorsements and appointments, DeSantis has been expanding his influence over local education, helping push the Miami-Dade school board to the right.

DeSantis also currently has two appointees on the Broward County School Board. Those members unsuccessfully attempted to fire the district’s superintendent.

Navarro has been known as one of the Miami-Dade board’s outspoken conservative voices. She prompted public outcry last April when she suggested from the dais that the Christian God is the only God.

Navarro was also the only member of the board to vote against mandating masks in August of 2021 (another board member was absent from the meeting). Navarro’s vote put her at odds with the district’s public health advisors, who were begging district officials to strengthen COVID precautions at a time when coronavirus cases in the county were surging.

Navarro’s departure is not expected to significantly change the political leanings of the board, which has been moving to the right with the election of Board Members Roberto Alonso and Monica Colucci, who were both endorsed by DeSantis. They — along with Board Member Daniel Espino, who was appointed by the governor, and Board Chair Mari Tere Rojas — are expected to vote as a conservative bloc, outnumbering the board’s four left-leaning members.

Meanwhile, a group of elected officials in Leon, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the law that forced Navarro and others to resign, arguing the lobbying restrictions violate their First Amendment rights. A judge is scheduled to hear arguments in the case on Jan. 27.

Kate Payne is WLRN's education reporter