Administrator who oversaw Broward schools’ Promise program is stepping down

A top Broward school administrator who was praised for her efforts to provide healing after the Parkland massacre — and then criticized for her role overseeing the controversial Promise program — is stepping down.

Veteran educator Michaelle “Mickey” Pope, chief of student support initiatives, announced her retirement plans Thursday, becoming the latest in a growing list of high-profile administrators to step down in recent months. Since December, the school district has also lost its chiefs of police, human resources, facilities, technology and public information.

Pope’s last day will be March 31, with Chief Academic Officer Dan Gohl assuming her duties until a replacement is named, Superintendent Robert Runcie said in an email sent to School Board members Thursday.

“It was not an easy decision. I have been doing some important and impactful work on behalf of the children of this county, with some very great people by my side,” Pope, 58, wrote in a letter to friends and colleagues. “I know there is much more to be done, but after talking with my family, and after talking with my God, it feels like the right time for me to move on and pass the baton to some very capable people who can take the work to the next level.”

Runcie told School Board members that Pope informed him of her plans to retire around this time a year ago.

“I asked her to stay on to complete a few critical student support projects and later to take on the first year of recovery after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas tragedy. Her fearless advocacy for students and transformational leadership has helped build district capacity in all areas of student support. She has been exemplary and will be difficult to replace.”

Pope had not signed up for the district’s Deferred Retirement Option Program, a commonly used benefit that provides a lucrative payout for people who plan their retirement five years in advance. She could not be reached for comment Thursday evening.

Pope was the executive director of student support services last year when a gunman killed 17 people at Stoneman Douglas. She oversaw efforts to provide grief counselors and therapy dogs to students and staff and open resiliency centers where families facing trauma could receive services.

“I’m going to miss every moment that I spent working for Broward County Public Schools,” Pope wrote. “It’s a special place that I have loved working at, filled with people that I have loved working with.”, 561-243-6637 or Twitter @smtravis.