Veteran Broward School Board member Jennifer Gottlieb resigned from her countywide seat on Friday, just days before the August 22nd school start date.
Though she has yet to give a reason for her surprise departure, Gottlieb is expected to submit a formal letter of resignation after calling chairman Benjamin Williams on Friday, Williams said.
“I was surprised that she was resigning, but we didn’t go into detail,“ he told the Miami Herald.
The 39-year-old former teacher and union lobbyist's resignation followed one day after that of freshman school board member Dave Thomas, who stepped down Thursday to attend to his wife's health issues.
Though a state grand jury report recommended in February that the trouble-plagued board be cut from nine to five or seven members, Republican Governor Rick Scott will likely appoint replacements for Thomas and Gottlieb. Such a move could potentially rock what has long been a majority Democratic, albeit non-partisan, board.
Gottleib had missed board meetings and school events in recent weeks, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, prompting rumors that she might soon step down.
Though not identified by name, she was criticized in the state grand jury report for pushing the construction of Beachside Montessori School Village in Hollywood, now attended by one of her sons.
In the report, which did not accuse Gottlieb of any wrongdoing, the $25 million magnet school was termed a "beachside boondoggle."
“Beachside cost the taxpayers over $25 million, including over $6 million in land acquisition, displaced dozens of residents, razed almost all of a local community park, and [was] built in an area and a time where there was an abundance of empty elementary and middle school seats,” read the grand jury report, referring to the project as "a microcosm of everything that's wrong with the board and district."
Gottlieb has maintained that the school was a win for the district because it could replicate the successes of a Montessori program at Virginia Shuman Young Elementary in Fort Lauderdale.
Board members, who have also dealt with the loss of two members to corruption scandals in the last two years, say they will not let the resignations deter them from tasks at hand.
“There’s still seven of us,” Board member Robin Bartleman told the Herald. “We have to continue working on the budget, implementing new legislation and making sure the doors open on the first day of school."