Broward County School Board Superintendent Robert Runcie watches during the School Board meeting on Tuesday April 27, 2020 at the Kathleen C. Wright Administrative Center. Runcie faces perjury charges after being charged by a statewide grand jury indicted after the Parkland School shootings. He had offered to resign, he told school officials.
Broward County Public Schools superintendent Robert Runcie and the district’s top attorney Barbara Myrick said they would step down Tuesday night after indicting the grand jury earlier this month.
However, Runcie said it wasn’t specifically the number of the criminal offenses he was charged with that led him to resign, but rather the continued guilt he received for the events leading up to the February 14, 2018 mass shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Parkland high school where 17 students and faculty died.
“I’ll step aside so you can have the peace you’re looking for,” Runcie said to Lori Alhadeff, a school board member whose daughter Alyssa was killed in the shooting when she was only 14 years old.
The school board held a special session Tuesday to discuss the situation of Runcie and Myrick, both of whom were arrested last Wednesday in connection with a grand jury investigation.
Alhadeff and several other Parkland parents accused Runcie of creating the conditions that led to former Stoneman Douglas student Nikolas Cruz targeting the school.
School board chairwoman Rosalind Osgood, along with a yet-to-be-appointed attorney, will negotiate a separation agreement with Runcie and Myrick, which could be voted on during Thursday’s school board meeting.
Earlier Tuesday, Runcie posted a video statement saying he would face perjury charges following his arrest and indictment against the grand jury earlier this month.
The video, released through the school district’s public information office rather than its attorneys, repeated many of the same sentences his attorneys sent to reporters last Wednesday, the day he was arrested by state law enforcement officers.
“I am confident that I will be vindicated, and I intend to continue to exercise my superintendent responsibilities with the highest levels of integrity and moral standards, as I have done for nearly 10 years,” said Runcie, who is accused, lied A statewide grand jury investigated whether school districts comply with state school safety laws.
Legislation passed the laws after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.
Runcie also reiterated what his lawyers had said that the grand jury’s indictment was politically motivated.
“It’s a sad day in Broward County and across Florida when politics becomes more important than the interests of our students,” said Runcie.
About 20 people signed up to speak at the school board meeting on Tuesday, almost all of them for keeping Runcie in his job.
Runcie’s supporters criticized the board of directors for discussing Runcie’s employment solely on charges. The group encompassed a wide range of interests including clergy, local government and corporate groups. They praised Runcie’s leadership and the improvements made under his guidance.
Bob Swindell, chairman of the board of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, an economic development organization that trains students for the world of work, among other things, said Runcie was more active in the group than any of his predecessors.
“We need Superintendent Runcie to stay at the head of our schools on behalf of our children,” said Swindell.
Likewise, Dan Lindblade, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce, urged the board not to take action against Runcie this early in the legal process.
“Let this play out in court,” said Lindblade.
Broward County’s commissioner Dale Holness said efforts have been made to get rid of Runcie since he was hired in 2011. The school board extended his contract in 2017 to 2023, his second contract extension.
“This wasn’t just about parkland,” said Holness.
Holness noted that it was not until Governor Ron DeSantis publicly dismissed the grand jury a month after he was appointed governor that he could not legally remove Runcie because he was a school board appointed officer who had not been elected.
“You wonder why the public thinks there is something sinister about the indictment,” said Holness.
David Goodhue covers the Florida Keys and South Florida for FLKeysNews.com and the Miami Herald. Before joining the Herald, he reported on Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Energy in Washington, DC. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.