Governor appointment creates all white school board

Governor appointment creates all white school board

Civil rights leaders in Pensacola are calling for diversity on the Escambia County School Board. Governor Rick Scott appointed Lee Hansen, a white woman, to the vacant District 3 seat. The seat that has been held by a minority for many years and this decision makes the school board all white.

Civil Rights Activist Ellison Bennet said this is the just the latest blow when it comes to equality.

"It seems like Escambia County is taking a step back. You look at city hall, Joe Glover - assistant fire chief gone, what happened? David Alexander - chief of police gone. Where are we giving our young people the hope and encouragement? You can do well and you can achieve anything you want to."

On Monday, civil rights leaders met to talk about the future of District 3. It is primarily an African-American school district. They are angry with Governor Rick Scott's decision to appoint Lee Hansen to the seat. A minority has held that seat since 1977.

Rodney Jones, president of the Pensacola NAACP, said, "I'm totally upset. I think there should be an outrage due to his appointment, being now that the minority group has no representative. He took a seat that is minority majority and has given it to a white woman."

Bennett said, "You have to have people representing you, that understand your needs, concerns, your struggles, your sacrifice."

Hansen has spent the past 11 years running Global Corner. It's an organization that partners with all schools in the area and teaches students about the world.

She feels her skin color shouldn't matter and will fight for every child in her district.

She said, "I would hope they would judge me on my abilities, things I've accomplished, anything I can change, but there's not much I can do about my skin color. My role is to help every child, I'm colorblind when it comes to helping kids."

Civil rights leaders are now asking the governor to reappoint the seat.

Channel 3 reached out to Governor Rick Scott. His office told us he feels Hansen was the most qualified for the job.

The full statement reads:

Governor Scott is focused on improving education for all children in Florida and his appointments to school boards are entirely focused on selecting the most qualified candidate for the position and no other criteria.
Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart interview candidates on behalf of Governor Scott and recommended Lee Hansen. Governor Scott spoke with Ms. Hansen in November and believes she will do a great job representing the people of Escambia County.

Hansen will serve the remainder of Moultrie's term, which runs through November 2018 and then an election will be held to fill the seat.

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