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Khanh-Lien Banko urges Gov. DeSantis to declare a vacancy on the Alachua County School Board, allowing him to fill the void

Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 11:53 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Those fighting Diyonne McGraw’s status as an elected official are speaking out for the first time. On Wednesday, her former opponent for the District 2 seat, Khanh-Lien Banko, explained why she brought the suit.

“Alachua County School Board District 2 is without representation since November of 2020,” explained Banko.

RELATED STORY: School Board Member Diyonne McGraw’s ability to vote causes tensions to rise after judge denies emergency injunction

People are adding their names to the suit, including those who have worked within the school district. Banko wants to make one thing clear while she is urging Gov. Ron DeSantis to resolve this matter; she does not want the seat for personal reasons.

“I am not seeking the District 2 seat. If Ms. McGraw is removed as she should be, then someone else would replace Ms. McGraw,” said Banko.

She believes legal action is necessary because of questions surrounding McGraw’s fair claim to the seat.

“I am bringing this case forward because it is the right thing to do and provides a path for the citizens of Alachua County to remedy a wrong,” said Banko.

The former candidate said finding out that her opponent doesn’t live in the correct district was shocking.

“I was shocked than surprised and angered when it was brought to her attention, and she did not do the right thing,” explained Banko.

RELATED STORY: Court rules that ACPS school board member Diyonne McGraw can keep voting

Marlon Bruce, another plaintiff in the case, is a school district employee and former candidate for mayor. He believes at this time, District 2 has no representative because McGraw does not live within the boundaries. The Supervisor of Elections confirmed that McGraw’s address listed on her candidate oath form falls in District 4, not 2.

“Voters deserve transparency and accountability. Parents deserve clarity, and students deserve a role model,” said Bruce. “How can I as an educator ask my students to follow the rules when the person who makes the rules so blatantly breaks them.”

Banko and Bruce are both calling on Gov. Ron DeSantis to declare a vacancy and fill the void in District 2.

“We have a short summer school returns, and our students and their educators uphold the law and stand as an example to our students and community,” said Banko.

TV20 reached out to Richard Keith Alan II, who is representing McGraw, for comment after Banko and Bruce spoke publicly. At first, he implied he would talk with us but later said he has no comment at this time. During Tuesday’s school board meeting, he urged board members to respect McGraw’s right to defend herself against these accusations.

“I think we need to respect the constitutional right that Ms. McGraw has to defend herself against these claims,” explained Alan.

RELATED STORY: Attorneys go head to head in first hearing in lawsuit against Diyonne McGraw

McGraw will continue to vote as a school board member until a judge or Gov. DeSantis make any further decisions. On Thursday, the Newberry Commission is holding an emergency meeting to address concerns raised by the McGraw controversy.

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