Former SBAC member McGraw sues DeSantis, opponent

Former Alachua County School Board member Diyonne McGraw filed a lawsuit on Sunday demanding a jury trial against Gov. Ron DeSantis and two others for violating her 14th Amendment rights and conspiring against her.

In the lawsuit, McGraw argues that Khanh-Lien Banko and her attorney, Jeff Childers, along with DeSantis, conspired “to deprive Plaintiff McGraw of her property and or liberty interests without due process of law.”

McGraw says the defendants sought to remove her from office without following the correct channels.

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According to the lawsuit, these defendants acted with “deliberate indifference” to McGraw’s constitutional rights, depriving her of property, liberty interests and damages.

Diyonne McGraw

McGraw narrowly won the District 2 seat in an election against Banko on Aug. 18, 2020. However, on June 17, 2021, DeSantis declared the District 2 seat vacant after Kim Barton, supervisor of elections for Alachua County, confirmed that McGraw lived in District 4.

After two months without a fifth member, DeSantis filled the seat with Mildred Russell on Aug. 18.

The lawsuit says McGraw visited Tim Williams, assistant supervisor of elections for Alachua County, around Sept. 25, 2019, to confirm what school district she lived in.

Williams informed McGraw that she lived in District 2 of Alachua County, according to the suit. McGraw returned to Williams on June 11, 2020, to confirm the district and file to run for the District 2 seat in the upcoming elections.

Childers, Banko’s attorney, dismissed the suit as frivolous. 

“Ms. McGraw has alleged a fantastic conspiracy between Ms. Banko, her attorneys, the Governor, the Supervisor of Elections, the judge, and even the school board’s attorney,” Childers said in a Wednesday evening text message to Mainstreet Daily News. “The suit lacks even cursory merit, and unless I am missing something, will be resolved quickly.” 

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a response from Jeff Childers. 

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