Orlando Sentinel | by Leslie Postal | October 13, 2020
The Florida Virtual School, operating since May without an oversight board, now has four members on what is to be a new seven-person board of trustees.
Gov. Ron DeSantis late Friday appointed the four to the online school’s new board. They are a chancellor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; a former educator with Miami-Dade County public schools; a South Florida roofing company executive; and a Fort Lauderdale attorney who, according to state campaign finance records, donated to DeSantis’ gubernatorial campaign.
The virtual school is Florida’s online public school and operates on nearly $200 million in public money.
Its Orlando headquarters faced scandal starting in late 2018 when whistle blowers inside the school complained about the behavior of former general counsel Frank Kruppenbacher. A subsequent school audit questioned spending and contracts Kruppenbacher approved. Kruppenbacher, who resigned from the virtual school in August 2018, has denied wrongdoing.
In April 2019, the Orlando Sentinel published an investigation of Kruppenbacher’s time at the school. The story documented his ties to then Gov. Rick Scott, now a U.S. senator, and to Scott’s appointees on school’s board of trustees. The FLVS trustees served as Kruppenbacher’s bosses but gave him leeway to amass out-sized authority at the school, the newspaper found.
DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran called for an audit of FLVS, and then the Florida Legislature moved to dismantle the school’s independent board.
The virtual school then reported to the State Board of Education, a relationship that continued until May of this year when the governor was again authorized to appoint a new board for the school.
The four new members are: Robert Kornahrens, who is president and chief executive officer of Advanced Roofing, Inc; Edward Pozzuoli, an attorney and the chief executive officer of Tripp Scott, a Fort Lauderdale law firm, who donated $1,000 to DeSantis’ 2018 campaign; Linda Reiter, a deaf and hard of hearing specialist, who worked as a teacher for the Miami-Dade school system for 36 years; and John Watret, chancellor of worldwide campus at Embry-Riddle.
It is unclear when DeSantis will appoint the three remaining members to the board.