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Father of slain Parkland student backed for education board

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A key Senate panel Monday backed Gov. Ron DeSantis’ appointment of Ryan Petty to the State Board of Education, more than two years after Petty’s daughter was slain at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County.

The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee recommended confirmation of Petty, who still needs approval from the full Senate.

Petty, a senior vice-president of Cable & Wireless Communications, has been heavily involved in education issues since the Feb. 14, 2018, mass shooting in which his daughter, Alaina, and 16 other people were killed at the Parkland school.

Petty was appointed by former Gov. Rick Scott to serve on a state school-safety commission established after the massacre and unsuccessfully ran for the Broward County School Board. DeSantis appointed him to the State Board of Education in January.

Republicans on the Ethics and Elections Committee praised Petty on Monday, with Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah, saying to Petty that “you care about our education system as a whole, not just school safety.”

But Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens, questioned why Petty should serve on the State Board of Education when he was rejected by voters for the Broward County School Board seat.

“The people of Broward made a decision, and they made a decision not to elect Mr. Petty,” Braynon said.