The Broward County School Board is scheduled to vote next week on whether to fire embattled Superintendent Robert Runcie.
The newest board member, Lori Alhadeff, has placed on the agenda for the March 5 meeting a request to terminate Runcie’s contract.
Alhadeff, whose daughter Alyssa was killed during the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High on Feb. 14, 2018, cited Runcie’s “many failures of leadership,” including his handling of the tragedy, as well as the slow progress on the $800 million bond passed by voters in 2014.
“It is of urgency to have a leader to expedite safety to the entire district and to improve a failing bond program,” Alhadeff told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “The urgency to do this now is because the district is spiraling out of control.”
Runcie could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday evening.
It’s unlikely there are the needed votes to fire Runcie. Five of nine board members — Ann Murray, Laurie Rich Levinson, Patti Good, Rosalind Osgood and Donna Korn — have voiced support for Runcie in recent weeks.
“As board members, we need to be accountable to the public. I am bringing it forward regardless if I have five votes or not,” Alhadeff said.
Still, it’s likely to prompt an uncomfortable discussion and could force two board members — Chairwoman Heather Brinkworth and Robin Bartleman — to take a public stance on Runcie’s future.
Bartleman is one of Runcie’s biggest critics, and one of Alhadeff’s staunchest defenders, but has repeatedly declined to say whether she would fire him.
Brinkworth gave Runcie an “effective” evaluation last fall but is also frequently critical of Runcie and his staff, particularly on matters involving bond projects. Both again declined to comment Tuesday evening.
Nora Rupert is the only other board member who has publicly said she would fire Runcie. She said that view was reaffirmed after attending a public forum on school safety Tuesday where hundreds of Runcie supporters — many of whom arrived on buses from black churches in the area — cheered loudly for the superintendent and booed and heckled speakers who were critical of him.
“It highlighted how incredibly divided Broward County school system is right now with our community, and an awful lot of healing needs to occur, and I’m not sure he’s the leader who needs to take us where he wants to go,” Rupert said.
The district has been faced with a number of problems in recent months, including a failure to hold people accountable for Stoneman Douglas, a lack of urgency to fix security flaws, and repeated efforts to hide information from the public. This week, the state Supreme Court approved a request for a grand jury investigation to review how well Broward has handled security and spending.
“We are not under a grand jury investigation because the district is running so smoothly” Alhadeff said.
Korn told the Sun Sentinel recently that she supports Runcie and that the board relies on his input to make decisions. “We have made great inroads, but we have so much more to do. I believe he is up for that challenge,” she said.
Levinson said recently that three of Runcie’s supporters — herself, Korn and Murray — were recently re-elected with the public being aware of their support for the superintendent. Rupert and Alhadeff also won elections recently.
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