Alachua County School Board Members discuss the controversy surrounding Diyonne McGraw

The issue of whether or not Alachua County School Board Member Diyonne McgGaw represents...
The issue of whether or not Alachua County School Board Member Diyonne McgGaw represents District 2 made its way into Tuesday's school board public hearing.(WCJB)
Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 7:02 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB)-The issue of whether or not Alachua County School Board Member Diyonne McgGaw represents District 2 made its way into Tuesday’s school board public hearing. It soon turned into board members throwing accusations at one another. However, the one question still not answered is whether McGraw legally represents District 2.

“This is from the Trump playbook, straight out of the Trump playbook. Their candidate didn’t win, and now they are trying to unseat Ms. McGraw,” said Alachua County School Board Member Tina Certain.

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This was the first public meeting with board members since the discovery was made last week. Certain explained despite differences between members in the past. This issue is creating division.

“We tried to be collegial in the past despite our different philosophies and paths on how we are supposed to move forward,” said Certain. “To me, that path has been abandoned.”

Certain believes her colleague’s name is being “smeared” without all of the facts.

“I feel really just some way about how our colleague was smeared just a few minutes ago when we have nothing official from the Governor’s office. The Secretary of State, we don’t even have anything from our local Supervisors of Elections,” explained Certain.

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However, a spokesperson for the Supervisor of Elections office told TV20 that McGraw’s address listed on her candidate oath form does fall within District 4 lines, not District 2 the area she was elected to represent. Board Member Rob Hyatt was on the receiving end of comments from Certain and said there is one simple question that needs to be answered.

“The only question at hand is, are state laws being violated,” said Hyatt.

He wants this question answered before any further decisions are made.

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“The board should not be making major decisions when we have a situation that has divided this district,” explained Hyatt.

Superintendent Dr. Carlee Simon said despite this controversy. It can’t have an impact on Alachua County students.

“I think right now it is a disruption. I just want to make sure that we are making the correct decisions and we can continue with the work of educating our kids in Alachua County,” said Dr. Simon.

RELATED STORY: A petition is demanding Diyonne McGraw step down

Despite the urgency of the issue, one official emphasizes that the board’s goals are still a priority. Dr. Leanetta McNealy said, “The citizens may be distracted, but we certainly are not distracted as board members. We will be going on with our future plans. I’m excited, as I stated last week during the board meeting about the vision of Dr. Carlee Simon.”

Simon said district maps by the school board and Supervisor of Elections were usually redone after every U.S. Census but were not changed in 2011.

Now, with more voting precincts than 2001, McNealy said in fact they all may be elected in the wrong district.

“So, I could be impacted if the mapping is not correct, or all of us,” McNealy said. “So, wouldn’t that be something if all five board members would then have to seek reelection because of mapping. I hope that’s not the decision. I don’t have a crystal ball to determine the future.”

The school board and Alachua County Supervisors of the Elections are looking into the issue further and have contacted the state for an investigation.

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