Steven Florio, the commissioner of the Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, has been placed on administrative leave while the Baker administration looks into reports that he dressed in Ku Klux Klan robes and made Nazi salutes while a member of a college fraternity.
In a statement confirming a report from the Boston Globe on Thursday evening, Baker's Executive Office of Health and Human Services said it "takes these allegations seriously" and referred to "internal investigations" underway. Deputy Commissioner Patricia Ford was named acting commissioner, the office said.
The Globe reported this week that Florio informed his staff of his racially insensitive behavior last month following Gallaudet University's suspension of the Kappa Gamma fraternity. Photos had surfaced of fraternity members wearing robes with pointed hoods that resembled those worn by the Ku Klux Klan and performing Nazi salutes.
At least one photo overlapped with Florio's time at the university and the Globe reported that Florio told his staff he was not depicted in the photo, but had engaged in offensive behavior.
"Obviously, there's no tolerance for intolerance, and I'll leave it at that. But I think it's important that this be investigated and that investigation is going on right now," Gov. Charlie Baker said this week. He added, "It was 30 years ago. There's a lot of work that needs to be done to follow up."