Florida Department of Education Investigates Rocky Hanna de Leon

Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna is under investigation for what the state education department says is the degree to which his personal views have affected his work. Hanna is the latest in a line of superintendents to have been ousted or have resigned after challenging Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Of the dozen Florida school districts that challenged DeSantis’ ban on local mask mandates, only five still have their original superintendents. If Hanna is removed from her position as a result of the investigation, that number drops to four.

Hanna is the only superintendent of the original dozen to be elected and not appointed. That means the only way she can be removed from her job, other than losing an election, is through gubernatorial action. In a letter, the DOE says that Hanna is being investigated to determine if her personal views have affected her role as superintendent. In a statement, Hanna called the investigation “without merit” and said she was prompted by a complaint sent to the governor by a member of the Moms for Liberty Leon chapter. Hanna says the complaint stemmed from a letter she sent to teachers at the beginning of the school year.

The chapter did not respond to a request for comment.

Consequences for any confirmed misconduct include reprimands, fines, probation, suspension, or loss of a teaching certificate. Hanna was a popular principal and teacher for nearly 30 years prior to his election. He has been a vocal opponent of charter schools and the state’s private tuition scholarship program. Hanna also led the district in a lawsuit against the state over an executive order banning school mask mandates.

News of the investigation was first reported by the Tallahassee Democrat. It had been circulating for about two weeks after Hanna allegedly briefed Leon County school board members just before the start of the Jan. 10 board meeting.

More recently, León found himself at the center of a political dispute over a parental rights law that critics dubbed “Don’t Say Gay.” The law blocks the discussion and teaching of gender identity and sexuality in grades K-3 and limits it to “age appropriateness” in the upper grades. It also prevents school districts from withholding information about changes in a child’s mental or physical health. Supporters of the law pointed to a lawsuit against Leon County schools in which a parent claimed the district withheld information about his son’s preferred pronouns and other LGBTQ accommodations. The lawsuit was recently dismissed.

Read Hanna’s full statement:

On Christmas Eve, as I was preparing to go to church with my family, I received a certified letter from the Florida Department of Education informing me that I was under investigation for my “personal views.”

I believe the investigation stems from a complaint received by the Governor’s Office from a parent who is on the Executive Board of the local organization Mom’s For Liberty. The complaint centers on an encouraging email I sent to teachers at the start of the school year.

Over the past 6 years, I have worked hard to support and advocate for our teachers and our traditional public schools. I have always tried my best to be a champion for our children and do things the right way according to the law. There is absolutely no merit in this case at all.

–Superintendent Rocky Hanna

Timeline of removals and resignations of superintendents

  • Alberto Carvalho, Miami-Dade: Resigned to become Superintendent of Los Angeles Schools in December 2021
  • Alachua County Schools: Carlee Simon fired in a 3-2 vote in March 2022
  • Volusia County Schools: Scott Fritt, laid off in April 2022
  • Orange County Schools: Barbara Jenkins Retired July 2022
  • Bevard County Schools: Mark Mullins, November 2022
  • Sarasota County Schools, Brennan Asplen, December 2022
  • Broward County Schools: Vicki Cartwright, fired November 2022, reinstated December 2022, and fired January 23, 2023.