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Rep. that doesn’t meet the State’s education requirements to be an elementary principal, selected as President of Florida College

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The Florida Department of Education and Florida Law have very specific education requirements to qualify for the position of an elementary school principal. The position requires at least a master’s degree (many have doctorates) as well as state certification in educational leadership. State Representative Fred Hawkins has none of these qualifications.

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That’s correct. A man who cannot legally lead 5 to 12-year-olds has just been selected as the new President of South Florida State College. However, he does have a history of backing Governor DeSantis in his fight against Disney, along with a felony arrest for impersonating a law enforcement officer. Furthermore, he is a Republican. The other three finalists, who all exceeded the requirements for the position, withdrew after being informed by the Board that they would not be selected because they were registered Democrats. This left Hawkins as the only finalist for the position, but not before the board voted to lower the education requirements for him.

Louis Kirschner, a member of the board of trustees, explained, “You have to understand that we are political appointees, and they were all Democrats. The governor doesn’t appoint all Republican trustees and expect us to select a Democrat.”

According to the Tampa Bay Times, the three finalists—Amy Bosley, John M. Davis, and Vicky Wood—had doctoral degrees and administrative experience at community colleges. Bosley currently serves as the vice president for institutional planning, development, and chief of staff at Valencia College in Orlando; Davis is the vice president of administrative services at Germanna Community College in Locust Grove, Virginia, and Wood is the president of Washington State Community College in Marietta, Ohio.

Hawkins has stated that he plans to begin online coursework towards obtaining his master’s degree. The details of his contract with the college will be made available at a meeting of the school’s trustees on June 21, but it is expected that his salary will be significantly high for an unqualified recipient.

Richard Cocoran, who was selected as the new President of New College, now receives a base salary of $699,000 per year as president of the small liberal arts college. This does not include a substantial housing allowance and other benefits. In addition to his salary, Cocoran’s contract calls for a $104,850 retirement supplement, an annual performance bonus of up to $104,850, a housing stipend of $84,000, and a $12,000 car allowance.

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At the time of Cocoran’s hiring, New College had less than 700 students. It has been reported that the school’s enrollment has since dropped to just over 350 students. Cocoran’s base salary is comparable to that of presidents at schools over 70 times the size of New College. It is nearly $100,000 more than the salary of the president of UCF—a school with more than 100 times as many students. The previous president of the school had a salary of $305,000.

In comparison, South Florida State College has an enrollment of 2,822 according to usnews.com. With a population at least four times that of New College, Hawkins’ salary is expected to be at least comparable to the million-dollar package Cocoran was awarded.

DeSantis is now pushing for another unqualified candidate with no experience to lead FAU in South Florida. State Representative Randy Fine has stated that DeSantis encouraged him to apply for the position instead of running for the Florida Senate next year. Fine says he is “strongly considering it.” Sources in the Governor’s office state that it is a foregone conclusion, and Fine will either drop out of the Senate race or face DeSantis-backed opposition. He’s also currently facing ethics charges from the State of Florida for abusing his office, as well as a criminal investigation over a ghost candidate scandal, among other campaign finance violations. Time will tell.

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