The school board in Broward County, Fla. — where 14 students and three staff members died in a shooting last year at a suburban high school — voted Tuesday to keep schools Superintendent Robert Runcie. Three of nine members dissented, including a parent of one of the students who died.
Runcie faced criticism after the Feb. 14, 2018, shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Fla., from some board members and Parkland parents over security measures at the school. Newly installed Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has also criticized the superintendent.
A Florida commission investigating the shootings released a starkly worded report this year saying security at public schools must be improved. It recommended arming teachers and spending more on mental health programs.
It slammed Broward County Public Schools, saying that neither the school nor the district had a clear plan to lock down classrooms. Instead, it took several minutes for that to occur at Stoneman Douglas on the day of the massacre, leaving students and staff “vulnerable to being shot." Questions were also raised about the way the district handled the alleged shooter, Nikolas Cruz, who had been a troubled student at Stoneman Douglas. And the South Florida Sun-Sentinel published a story about two school monitors who, it said, failed to respond when Cruz entered the school.
Lori Alhadeff, who was elected to the board last year after her daughter, Alyssa, died in the shooting, put forward a proposal to terminate Runcie’s contract, saying he had shown poor leadership. Two other board members voted with her, although six backed Runcie.
Runcie has been superintendent since 2011, and in 2017, his contract was extended until 2023. DeSantis had suggested he wanted to remove the superintendent. But the governor said recently he would not attempt to remove Runcie because a relevant Florida statute applies to elected officials, not appointed ones. The governor may instead target school board members by pushing for term limits for such positions.
A recent town hall meeting on school safety in Broward County revealed the tensions over Runcie. Parkland parents, who are mostly white, made clear they wanted Runcie fired. Others, mostly from the African American community, wanted him to keep his job, the Miami Herald reported.