New school board members take office after November midterms


Tribune News Service

Allen Zeman defeated Donna Korn in the countywide District 8 Broward School Board seat. Gov. DeSantis had suspended Korn and three other board members in August. She was the only one among the four suspended board members on the ballot in Tuesday’s election.

Kevin Hamm, Writer

While much of the focus on the 2022 midterm elections was centered around the statewide and national elections, across America there were also important local elections on the county level.   

On Nov. 8, Broward County voters determined who would represent their district on the School Board of Broward County; the winning candidates were sworn in on Nov. 22.

The school board districts that had seats up for election included District 1, which includes the Broward Municipal Service District, Miramar, Southwest Ranches, Weston and Pembroke Pines; District 5, which includes Southwest Ranches, Davie, Weston, Plantation and Sunrise; District 6, which includes Dania Beach, Hallandale Beach, Hollywood, Pembroke Park and West Park; and District 8, which is an at large seat. 

“It is my hope that the new school board prioritizes the issues of teacher pay and better handles the new laws that are put in place by the state legislature regarding education such as parental rights and the banning of books and certain subjects like Critical Race Theory,” junior Maya Gordon said. “The school board can better handle issues that are on a micro-scale such as mental health, but these local elections get overlooked because the work that the school board does is less prevalent in the media.” 

Rodney Velez was elected in District 1; he supports improving teacher compensation through bargaining, improving school safety through establishing single points of entry and reducing bullying through support programs. Due to complications surrounding a 20-year-old felony charge, however, Velez has yet to be sworn in. 

Jeff Holness was elected in District 5 and wants to prioritize students’ mental health, school safety, learning gaps and students with learning disabilities. 

Though most School Board elections were not about the typical partisan issues seen in larger elections, some candidates focused on culture-war issues concerning education.

Brenda Fam, who ran on a platform of parental rights, family values and “anti-wokeness,” was elected to District 6. She explicitly campaigned against obscene material in school libraries and pro-LGBTQ+ policies in some schools, though she did not specify which ones. 

Other candidates also supported more partisan issues concerning some of the actions taken and legislation passed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Allen Zeman was elected in district 8 in an at-large seat; he supports making the COVID-19 vaccine required, opposes the censorship of material teaching about LGBTQ+ issues and history and favors stronger laws surrounding transparency around the financial dealings of school board members. 

“The real problem is censorship,” Zeman said in an interview with the Sun Sentinel. “There is an effort by members of the legislature to rewrite history and censor honest conversations about race, diversity, and LGBTQ people.” 

Broward County Public Schools was already the subject of controversy when DeSantis suspended four members of the School Board from office for incompetence and misuse of authority and replaced them with his own appointees on Aug. 26. The governor has also fought with the School Board over issues such as mask mandates and curriculum over the past two years. 

As DeSantis serves another four-year term and new School Board members take office, it is likely that political battles over issues such as health and curriculum will continue in Broward County along with debates over other issues such as teacher compensation, student mental health and educational opportunities.