School Board Member calls on Governor DeSantis to investigate Lee County Schools

Posted at 6:32 PM, Mar 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-30 19:18:59-04

LEE COUNTY — A school board member is calling on the Governor’s Office to investigate the Lee County School District.

Gwynetta Gittens said she’s concerned about what she calls "financial mismanagement".

She said it’s to the point where she feels like she can’t work with many of her fellow board members. She’s concerned about a lack of investment in the east side of the District, which she represents, but she said those concerns are falling on deaf ears.

We met with Gittens outside the new Lehigh Acres Middle School, which is under construction.

“I live 10 minutes from this new school being built, and I did not know that they had broken ground," said Gittens.

Gittens said, if she’s not included in major decisions like that, there are consequences for the taxpayer.

“That building is going to come out to where the sidewalk is, 12 extra classrooms. That could have been done at yesterday’s prices and yesterday’s costs, but now we have to wait and get it done later," said Gittens.

But Gittens said the final straw for her was a discussion of spending thousands of dollars to investigate an anonymous complaint against the board members themselves.

"I would like a broad-based investigation, not just based on the complaint that came in, but broad-based over the entire leadership team on this issue," said Board Member Chris Patricca at the School Board Workshop on March 22nd.

"I agree, that’s what we should be doing. That’s why I put it out there. I think we need a broad-scope investigation begetting 219 into conduct of this board," said Board Member Cathleen Morgan at the same meeting.

"I of course didn’t vote for it, and I said if you do, I am going to contact the Governor, because actually he could do the same thing with a broader scope, and we don’t have to pay any of our tax-payer’s money," said Gittens.

And Gittens announced she did contact the Governor in a press release Tuesday morning. She said, she’s concerned the District is not using tax money to address serious issues, like reducing the hundreds of portable units in her district.

“66% of the growth is in this area, okay? And 80% of the portables are in this area. The reason they got the tax was to build schools out here. Where are they?” said Gittens.

Gittens called her request to the Governor a "Hail Mary", but she hopes it makes a difference.

“If they won’t listen, maybe somebody above them will," said Gittens.

The School District told us it can’t comment, because it hasn’t received a copy of Gittens' complaint. She didn’t provide us with a copy either.

UPDATE 03/30/2021 7:20 p.m.: We reached out to the Governor’s Office to see if the complaint could be made available. The Office responded, saying it has not received Gittens' complaint.

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