Robert Runcie faces increased scrutiny over closed meetings with Parkland parents

BCPS superintendent says he will work with staff to set town hall date

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie is facing increased scrutiny over closed meetings with Parkland parents and students. 

He's also been heavily criticized for how the district has handled school security in the wake of the Feb. 14, 2018, mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 people dead. 

Runcie received support Tuesday outside the Broward County School Board meeting, but it was inside chambers that board members became irritated when they realized they wouldn't be taking action to decide whether a town hall would be open to the public.

Community leaders gathered outside the school board meeting to show their support for Runcie after the group got wind that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was exploring what action he could take against school board members. 

There was a heated discussion inside the meeting when the topic of open town hall meetings was brought to the forefront.

School board member Lori Alhadeff, who lost her daughter, Alyssa, 14, in the Parkland school shooting, asked for the school board to ensure that town hall meetings in each of the seven school board members' districts are open to the public to discuss safety and security.

Lori Alhadeff speaks at the Feb. 5 Broward County School Board meeting.
Lori Alhadeff speaks at the Feb. 5 Broward County School Board meeting.

"I wanted everyone's voices to be heard throughout the district," she said.  

But when board members found out there wouldn't be a vote on the item Tuesday, tempers began to flare.

"I find it highly offensive that this got twisted around, like it's only going to be an action item and we are only going to be up here to discuss it," Alhadeff said.  

Runcie responded by saying, "I gave no direction to anyone about putting this on as an action item or discussion item."

Members also touched upon a series of meetings Runcie has been having with Parkland parents and how Monday night's was a closed-door meeting with school members not allowed to attend, with the exception of Alhadeff.

"The meetings that were scheduled at Stoneman Douglas, they're consistent in my view," Runcie said. "We never have had media on the campus during the school year, ever."

Members, however, are demanding transparency, and Alhadeff asked if a town hall meeting will even be held.

"This wasn't about me," Alhadeff said. "This was something really important that all of us needed to be present to hear from the community."

Runcie said he would work with staff to develop a date and time for a town hall meeting. There is still no word on if it will be open to the public.


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