BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie was arrested Wednesday morning on a charge of perjury in an official proceeding. School Board attorney Barbara Myrick was also arrested.
Runcie, 59, was taken into custody by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and has since been released from the Broward County Main Jail.
According to his indictment, Runcie lied under oath between the dates of March 31 and April 1 while testifying under oath to a state grand jury.
The grand jury was investigating the following, according to the indictment:
- Whether refusal or failure to follow the mandates of school-related safety laws, such as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act, results in unnecessary and avoidable risk to students across the state;
- Whether public entities committed and continue to commit fraud and deceit by accepting state funds conditioned on implementation of certain safety measures while knowingly failing to act
- Whether school officials committed and continue to commit fraud and deceit by mismanaging, failing to use, and diverting funds from multimillion dollar bonds specifically solicited for school safety initiatives; and
- Whether school officials violated and continue to violate systematically underreporting incidents of criminal activity to the Department of Education.
How exactly the superintendent allegedly perjured himself during the investigation is not known at this time.
Myrick, meanwhile, was arrested on a charge of unlawful disclosure of statewide grand jury proceedings for the “knowingly and unlawfully public, broadcast, disclose or communicate to another person outside the statewide grand jury room any of the proceedings.”
Her alleged offenses are believed to have occurred between March 31 and April 14.
Attorneys for Runcie released a statement on behalf of the superintendent on Wednesday, which stated:
“It is a sad day in Broward County and across Florida when politics become more important that the interests of our students. Superintendent Runcie has fully cooperated with law enforcement throughout this statewide grand jury process. This morning, we received a copy of an indictment that does not shed any light on what false statement is alleged to have been made. He will continue to be transparent with the board, the parents and the public with any new information he receives.”
The details of the indictment make clear that the one perjury charge is related to Runcie’s testimony at the grand jury that was empaneled to investigate school safety and security following the murders at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School three year ago.
“I have a myriad of emotions going on right now,” School Board Member Debra Hixon told Local 10 News.
We read the indictment to Hixon who, along with Lori Alhadeff, are among those who lost family members at Stoneman Douglas and have since become two of the nine school board members.
“This is a person who has a family that deserves his day in court and his time. So, we can’t just jump to conclusions with having all the information. And that is not the easiest thing to say, but I think it is the right thing,” Hixon said.
Earlier in the day, Hixon said: “I would like to assure the public that the district is under strong leadership of this board and we will continue to work for the best interests of our students and staff. All BCPS employees are afforded due process, including the Superintendent. (The) District will be reviewing the facts, along with his employee contract to see how we proceed forward. As a Board, we will make a decision once we have all the information regarding this situation.”
Runcie’s chief of staff took his place during Monday’s School Board meeting, although the accusations against the superintendent were not yet known by members of the School Board.
“The School Board of Broward County, Florida (SBBC) will provide transparency, accountability and integrity as we continue to focus on delivering the highest quality educational experience for our students, teachers and staff,” Dr. Rosalind Osgood School Board Chair, District 5, said in a statement. “As legal processes continue, Broward County Public Schools will operate as normal under the District’s leadership team.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis who suspended then Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel for lapses that failed to prevent the mass shootings had the power to do the same with the superintendent.
Hixon said: “I believe he set up the grand jury to find out what the facts were. So, this comes out of that.”
DeSantis’ office responded by saying: “At this point, this is a matter for law enforcement and the courts. We have no further comment at this time.”
As for the grand jury report, Local 10 News learned that is expected to be released in the coming weeks.
(See the indictment below)