Broward County charter schools under fire for failing to have school resource officers

BCPS Superintendent Robert Runcie questioned by MSD Public Safety Commission

SUNRISE, Fla. – The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission met Thursday for the second time this week, a day after the first day of school, at which time Superintendent Robert Runcie was questioned by the panel. 

The main focus during Thursday's meeting was on charter schools and the safety requirements that must be in place.

Charter schools must be in compliance with a new Florida law requiring school resource officers in every school. While the law states that "a district school board must collaborate with charter school governing boards to facilitate charter school access to all safe-school officer options available under this section," the responsibly ultimately falls on the charter schools.

Runcie said he will shut down charter schools that are not in compliance 

The commission is giving the superintendent until Aug. 23 to send a list of 29 schools that still lack proper SROs. 

Runcie advised that on the first day of school, there were 201 SROs and 47 guardians, but there is still an abundance of concern about all schools being staffed with a police officer or armed guard. 

For the first day of school, there were officers on most campuses, but more than two dozen charter schools do not have long-term plans for security coverage. 

Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony has stepped in and provided his deputies because of the overwhelming concern for safety, but he may be able to provide deputies for only a few days, so time is of the essence.

"You said twice today in your presentation that if they weren't in compliance, the only authority you had was to convene the school board and revoke their charters, and it's time to take action," Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, who sits on the commission, said. "I guarantee you, if you convene your school board and revoke somebody's charter, everybody else is going to come to attention real fast and they're going to be compliant."

Runcie is moving to revoke one charter for failing to comply with the new rule because there was no officer on campus Wednesday on the first day of school. 

There was debate on the floor about disclosing the name of that school in a public forum. Runcie declined to give the name on the floor.

The school was later identified as Championship Academy in Davie, which has 588 students. 

About the Author: