Cleared Lee County School Board member wants colleagues held accountable

A school board member is calling for an investigation of the entire Lee County School Board.

Board member Melisa Giovanelli wants the entire school board to be looked into after she was cleared following an investigation of an ethics complaint made against her.

The state says it found no evidence about a complaint claiming Giovannelli misused her position, so she wants to see her fellow board members held accountable.

Giovannelli said she was the victim of a, “witch hunt,” for things other school board members didn’t like. She said it’s not the job of board members to go after other board members, and she wants to make sure the governor knows that.

“We really need to stay focused and not be worried about other board members,” Giovanelli said during a news conference. “That’s that cancel culture. When you don’t like what someone is saying or doing, you want to stop them, and we just need to let people be people.”

While Giovannelli wouldn’t name board member Chris Patricca specifically, she did read a direct quote from her, believing she is to blame for what she called a fraudulent ethics complaint.

Giovannelli wants the governor to look into Lee County School Board to make sure everyone stays in their lanes and is held accountable when they do not.

This is the second time this year a school board member called on the governor to investigate the board itself.

In March, board member Gwyn Gittens asked the governor to investigate, “waste, fraud, and abuse.” We don’t know if the governor ever followed up to Gittens’ request.

Giovannelli told us she’s already reached out to the governor, and he said he “has her ear.”

“I don’t want anyone to lose their job over anything,” Giovannelli said. “My point is just to do your job initially. Don’t create a false, fabricated ethics complaint against a board member because that’s what you decided to do at the end of the day because you don’t like what they’re doing.”

Ultimately, Giovanelli told us she would be happy with an apology from the people who are responsible for the complaint against her.

“I say it’s a new day,” Giovannelli said. “We have a new superintendent, and I’m hopeful that with a new superintendent that we’ll be able to move forward and conduct our business professionally and ethically and respect everyone at the table, and I look forward to that day.”

Reporter:Morgan Rynor
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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