Broward Schools sets deadline for candidates to apply for interim superintendent post

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The Broward County School Board began the process of finding an interim superintendent following its approval of Robert Runcie’s $754,900 separation agreement Tuesday.

Candidates will come from inside the district and must submit letters of interest by May 28. The nine-member School Board could make a decision on the candidate at a meeting it scheduled for June 15.

The discussion on the temporary administrator came just hours after the School Board narrowly approved, in a 5-4 vote, Runcie’s exit agreement after nearly 10 years with the district.

Runcie, 59, was indicted on April 15 of a perjury charge related to his testimony to a grand jury investigating whether Florida school districts were complying with state laws on school safety passed after the Feb. 14, 21018, mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland. Seventeen students and faculty members died in the tragedy.

As part of the deal, Runcie will stay on the clock until Aug. 10 to help whomever the School Board chooses for the interim post.

During the discussions about finding an interim superintendent, some on the dais, including Board Members Lori Alhadeff and Debra Hixon, said they wanted to open the process to candidates outside the district as well.

“It gives more opportunity for other people who would potentially qualify for the position,” said Alhadeff, who was one of four board members who voted against Runcie’s severance package.

Broward School Board members Ann Murray, left, and Debra Hixon attend a meeting where the Broward School Board approved, in a 5-4 vote, a $754,900 exit package for Superintendent Robert Runcie on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in Fort Lauderdale. On April 15, Runcie was indicted by a grand jury on a perjury charge. His last day is scheduled to be Aug. 10, although he is expected to stop serving as superintendent once an interim replacement is named.
Broward School Board members Ann Murray, left, and Debra Hixon attend a meeting where the Broward School Board approved, in a 5-4 vote, a $754,900 exit package for Superintendent Robert Runcie on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in Fort Lauderdale. On April 15, Runcie was indicted by a grand jury on a perjury charge. His last day is scheduled to be Aug. 10, although he is expected to stop serving as superintendent once an interim replacement is named.

The other seven board members said, however, the temporary job should go to someone already working in a leadership position within the school system who is familiar with procedures.

Alhadeff’s 14-year-old daughter, Alyssa, and Hixon’s husband, Chris, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas athletic director, were both killed in the shootings.

The district is heading into a busy time, with an unprecedented large summer school program to catch up students who have fallen behind due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have an extensive bench of people who are more than capable,” said Board Member Nora Rupert.

Board Member Ann Murray agreed, saying that under the district’s current leadership, Broward became a model for how to teach students both remotely and in-person.

“No one was as ready as we were when the pandemic hit,” she said.

The district did face serious challenges during the crisis, however, including having up to a third of its students fall so far behind they were at risk of failing.

Runcie, who was hired by the district in 2011, advised the board Tuesday afternoon to appoint an interim superintendent and then focus on hiring his permanent replacement. Even though the job pays well — he makes $356,201 a year — districts nationwide are having trouble finding administrators who want the post.

He pointed to the Houston public school district, which hasn’t had a permanent superintendent in more than three years.

Runcie said finding candidates to permanently replace him could take significantly longer than the board thinks. He urged them to not delay appointing an interim, so they can devote their attention to searching for a permanent replacement.

“I think that should be your focus, and make the interim process as simple as possible,” he said.

The School Board also on Tuesday discussed appointing an interim general counsel to replace Barbara Myrick, 72, whose last day is June 30.

Both Myrick and Runcie offered to resign last month following their respective statewide grand jury indictments. Runcie was charged with perjury and Myrick with disclosing grand jury proceedings. They are both fighting the charges.

Barbara Myrick, Broward County Public Schools general counsel, talks to School Board members after they approved her separation agreement Thursday, May 5, 2021.
Barbara Myrick, Broward County Public Schools general counsel, talks to School Board members after they approved her separation agreement Thursday, May 5, 2021.

The board unanimously approved Myrick’s $226,000 separation agreement on Thursday.

The School Board is scheduled to hold a meeting on June 3 to discuss writing a job description for the next general counsel.

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