1. Florida

Former state lawmaker Tom Grady appointed to Florida Board of Education

Published Oct. 30, 2015

Former one-term state Rep. Tom Grady, a Naples Republican and friend of Gov. Rick Scott, has won Scott's nod to sit on the Florida Board of Education.

During his brief tenure in the House, Grady was notable for billing taxpayers for flying on private planes owned by a campaign donor. He also pushed for tax breaks for some of Florida's richest residents.

As interim president of Citizens Property Insurance, he also racked up large hotel and travel expenses on the state's dime. During his short time there, he also created a new job for his former legislative aide.

Grady, whose appointment requires Senate confirmation, would join the State Board at a time when it is under siege over testing and accountability issues. In January, the board is expected to take up controversial school grade and cut score rules.

Grady, a wealthy securities lawyer, was not known for education issues. He did serve as a director of the Collier County Education Foundation in the 1990s.

"Just what we needed. Another non-educator to have zero understanding of best education practices and policy," lamented Opt Out Orlando leader Cindy Hamilton.

Scott did not issue any statement about Grady along with his appointment notice. Grady would replace John Colon, who resigned upon his appointment to the Manatee County School Board.

UPDATE: During Grady's two years in the House, he sponsored two education bills. In 2009, HB 991 requiring uniform accountability standards for all schools became law. In 2010, HB 1287 to direct all funds from AP, IB and AICE programs into administrative costs and teacher bonuses died, but a companion bill passed into law.

He also co-sponsored three education bills during his term, two of which connect closely to the accountability movement that Scott has strongly backed. Those were:

HB 7189 (2010), a companion to the controversial SB 6 that Charlie Crist vetoed amid teacher backlash. That bill, later revised and adopted into law, revamped teacher salaries, contracts and terms of employment, and remains a point of contention to this day. Grady advised the House on the constitutional and legal intricacies of the bill.

HB 453 (2009), expanding what is now known as the Corporate Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program, considered vouchers by some.

HB 1293 (2009), a bill to change high school graduation requirements, died in committee.


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