'Move forward’ is purpose of new building says head of Broward schools when asked why no plaque for MSD victims

Commemoration is 17 framed quotes in hallway of front office, Runcie says

Plaque at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School's new building has names of school board. (WPLG)

PARKLAND, Fla. – Broward County’s Superintendent of Schools reacted to the disappointment, and what one father of a student killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, called “infuriating” after the only plaque in a new building commemorated the Broward County School Board and not the 17 victims who were murdered on Feb. 14, 2018.

A small ceremony was held inside the new building Friday. The facility will provide classrooms the school has needed since the 1200 building was closed after it became a crime scene on Valentine’s Day 2018 when 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz walked into the school and opened fire. The 1200 building is expected to be demolished after the murder trial of Cruz.

Local 10′s Janine Stanwood, who was at the Friday night opening, wrote to the Broward County Public School district after parents of some of the murder victims expressed their views. Were there future plans to add another plaque or some other memorial at the building, and why was a tribute to the school board the only dedication?

In a statement from Robert W. Runcie, Superintendent, Broward County Public Schools, sent to Local 10, Runcie said that every BCPS school building has a plaque that identifies the school board of Broward County and the project architect.

"The purpose of the new building is to provide a state-of-the-art facility for our students and teachers to learn, teach and move forward. So (that) we will always remember why construction of the building was necessary, the hallway of the front office is lined with 17 framed quotes, each dedicated to one victim with their name inscribed on the frame.

Runcie said that an additional commemorative plaque would be a decision made by the school community, including the school’s teachers and staff. He added: “There are numerous remembrances on the MSD campus and additional conversations will take place regarding future efforts.”

Lori Alhadeff, who became a school board member after losing her 14-year-old daughter Alyssa in the shooting, said she was surprised to see the plaque and said, even though she is on the school board, had no idea it would be there.

“I absolutely feel that there should be a plaque at the bare minimum to commemorate the 17 killed,” Alhadeff wrote in a text message.

Alhadeff also said the plans to add a water feature to honor the 17 victims had to be put on hold due to the economic downturn during the coronavirus pandemic. There are also plans in the works for a memorial to replace the 1200 building.

“The parents of the victims are aware that our district has an obligation to listen to all voices in our community regarding MSD tragedy commemorations,” Runcie said.

About the Authors:

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local 10.com. She has a bachelor's degree from Emerson College, Boston, and a master's degree from SUNY-Empire State.

Janine Stanwood joined Local 10 News in February 2004 as an assignment editor. She is now a general assignment reporter. Before moving to South Florida from her Washington home, Janine was the senior legislative correspondent for a United States senator on Capitol Hill.