Abby Freedman dodges the interview
Abby Freedman wasn't gonna get away with this one.
When I tried to ask her a few questions during a break in a school workshop meeting Tuesday, Freedman just walked on by me and the camera into a restricted area of the building, claiming she had to go to the bathroom.
I waited for her. The questions dealt with a huge issue for Freedman: the ouster of popular principal Washington Collado at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, the largest school in her district.
Freedman sort of slipped into the background on that seismic issue, not showing up for a big rally outside the school, but sending an aide to give lip service to the media outside. It was Supt. Robert Runcie who made the decision to send Collado packing and many believe Runcie was buckling to political pressure brought on by four upset cheer moms, who with some well-applied board pressure also managed to convince Runcie to fire cheerleading coach Melissa Prochilo last year.
Hundreds of students and parents were outraged, along with community leaders from the mayor to the PTA president. But Freedman didn't mention the Collado firing in her glowing evaluation of Runcie. Instead she wrote little snippets like:
- "Mr. Runcie is continuously developing and implementing strategies to support our schools and teachers."
- "Mr. Runcie has created a culture of performance and accountability."
I was going to ask her to go on the record: Did she support Runcie's decision to get rid of Collado or not? Because if she did she would fly in the face of virtually every leader in her district, from the mayor to the PTA president.
So Local 10 photog Bob Palumbo and I waited for her to exit the "bathroom." We waited 20 minutes until the workshop break ended. At about that time she came to the door with a piece of cake (the board celebrated Runcie's 52nd birthday, which is actually today, during the break) and when she saw me she turned right back around. Then some guy kept peeking out the door crack.
Needless to say we didn't leave when the meeting started back up. She didn't emerge from the door for a full ten minutes into the meeting, missing much of a supposedly important briefing in the process. Again check out the video to see what happened.
And that's how Freedman managed to keep her thoughts on the biggest issue in her district a mystery.