By: Jen Russon
In two televised appearances on Wednesday, Superintendent Robert Runcie appeared to go from confident about his legal troubles to assuring school board members he would be willing to step down.
Runcie’s speech just after 11 a.m. was one of faith he would be afforded due process and continue serving in the same capacity he always had; however, by the time he spoke at a workshop that evening, the Superintendent was visibly shaken.
“I cannot put myself above the needs of our district,” said Runcie, adding his opinion that forgiveness and compassion had taken a back seat to anger and hate since the school shooting in Parkland three years ago.
Supt Runcie’s colleague and general counsel, Barbara Myrick, also arrested and indicted for perjury, offered to walk away from her 20-year career with Broward County Schools.
“I can’t continue in this environment,” she said.
Both appeared to be holding back tears as they delivered remarks at the end of a four-hour workshop.
“If my stepping down can bring you peace, that’s something I’m willing to do,” said Runcie.
The remarks came during a discussion of whether Runcie and Myrick should be suspended or terminated with or without cause.
Rosalind Osgood, District 1, invited 20 people to give their public comment on whether or not Runcie should be retained.
Most spoke in favor of keeping the Superintendent, except for two Parkland parents, who demanded accountability of Runcie’s Promise Program, his salary of over $600,000, and what they view as misappropriation of an $88 million bond for school improvements.
Lori Alhadeff, the school board member for District 4 and its schools in Coral Springs, Parkland, and Tamarac expressed concern over what she perceives as a persistent failure by the Superintendent.
“I cannot and will not sit idly by as our Superintendent gets arrested, and information comes out that he contacted witnesses in a criminal case, then lied about it to prosecutors,” said Alhadeff.
Alhadeff’s 14-year-old daughter, Alyssa, was killed in the 2018 gun massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas; the case she referred to killed 16 others.
On Wednesday, Alhadeff said she wanted to see Runice’s employment terminated without cause. She believes this will save the district time, money, and resources and enable a fresh start for students and teachers after the pandemic.
At the workshop, another school board member, Debbie Hixon, spoke. Her husband, Chris Hixon, an athletic director, was also shot dead on February 14, three years ago.
“I’ve never blamed the Superintendent for what happened that day,” said Hixon, adding what the school board was deliberating has nothing to do with whether or not Runcie is good or bad.
Hixon said the problem at hand is if Runcie and Myrick can fulfill their roles on the school board while at the same time defending themselves from the legal charges they are facing.
The pair are scheduled to appear in court on May 12.
On Thursday, April 29, the school board will vote to move forward with, suspend, or possibly terminate Runcie and Myrick’s employment contracts. That meeting is set for 11 a.m.
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- Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.
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