Charlie Crist’s Running Mate Says Work As ‘SPED Teacher’ Prepared Her To Deal With GOP-Majority Legislature

[Screenshot/Twitter/Jorge Bonilla]

Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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Karla Hernandez-Mats, the running mate of Democratic Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, said Wednesday that her role as a special education teacher qualifies her to deal with a “dysfunctional” legislature.

Hernandez-Mats compared Florida’s majority-Republican legislature to developmentally challenged children during a campaign event where she said she majored in “emotionally handicapped education.”

“Here we are, I’m a teacher, I am a SPED [special education] teacher, so my major was emotionally handicapped education. That by itself qualifies me to deal with a dysfunctional legislature,” she said, drawing laughs from the audience.

The abbreviation “SPED” is considered offensive, according to guidelines from the National Center on Disability and Journalism.

Casey DeSantis, the first lady of Florida, called Hernandez-Mats’ remark about children with disabilities a “new low.”

“Sickened by callous words from someone who claims to be an advocate for children,” DeSantis tweeted. “Karla, saying children w/ unique abilities are ‘dysfunctional’ & equating them to political opponents is a new low. I will make it my mission to let all parents know of the ‘hate in your heart.'”

Before becoming Crist’s running mate, Hernandez-Mats served as president of United Teachers of Dade (UTD), the fourth-largest teachers union in the United States. In this position, she advocated for school closures at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and criticized former President Donald Trump and her running mate’s opponent, Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who pushed for the return of in-person learning. (RELATED: Charlie Crist Compares Gov. Ron DeSantis To Satan And Himself To Jesus Christ) 

“We are disappointed with governmental agencies that are saying schools should remain open,” Hernandez-Mats said in a tweet posted March 13, 2020. “My hope is that our superintendent will take the lead regardless of what the government is saying.”