2 Volusia School Board Members on DeSantis's 'Target List'


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Ron DeSantis on Tuesday announced he and the state education department would be 'targeting' 14 county school board members whose politics didn't align with theirs - and some on the list are in Volusia County.

Anita Burnette and Carl Persis were both mentioned in the list, which was released on the conservative news outlet The Florida Standard. The description beneath the two members' names is as follows: "Lifelong Democrats, the whole package - masking, transgenderism, wokeism. Son works closely with Leftist radican Anna Eskamani". Referenced in the statement is State Representative Anna Eskamani of Orlando, a progressive legislator who's opposed many DeSantis-administration education measures.

For DeSantis, taking part in county school board races isn't new; the Governor issued endorsements and campaigned for several county candidates in the 2022 election cycle, including in Volusia and Flagler counties. Most of his picks statewide won their races. Both Volusia and Flagler were host to some of the few who didn't, including Fred Lowry and Jill Woolbright.

For the Florida Department of Education, however, it's a more unusually political activity. Education Commissioner Manny Díaz Jr. serves in a nonpartisan office. Still, the DeSantis administration has encouraged its cabinet-level officials to make known their conservative political leanings.

The list was also made in conjunction with Moms for Liberty, a group which emerged in 2021 to combat mask mandates in public schools. The group has since turned its attention to allegedly explicity reading material in schools, along with various other culture issues. State House Speaker Paul Renner was also present at the Tuesday meeting.

The commitment by DeSantis to rally for the election defeats of Burnette and Persis, along with the other outlined school board members, happens against the backdrop of a highly speculated presidential bid, in which the Governor will likely lean into the ways he's combatted what he calls 'woke ideology'.

The full list of school board members 'targeted' by DeSantis includes:

  • Brevard County: Jennifer Jenkins
  • Duval County: Kelly Coker & Cindy Pearson
  • Hillsborough County: Nadia Combs & Jessica Vaughn
  • Indian River County: Peggy Jones & Brian Barefoot
  • Miami-Dade County: Luisa Santos
  • Pinellas County: Laura Hine & Eileen Long
  • St. Lucie County: Jack Kelly
  • Volusia County: Anita Burnette & Carl Persis
  • Sarasota County: Tom Edwards

The Volusia School Board has been contacted by News Daytona Beach for comment, and this article will be amended if they respond.