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‘I am confident that I will be vindicated,’ Runcie says following indictment

Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie says he will step down

Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said he will step down from his position.
Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said he will step down from his position.

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – It was planned as a public discussion over the fate of Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie.

Instead, there was a surprise announcement.

Runcie said he will step down from his position.

At one point, he addressed Parkland parent and school board member Lori Alhadeff, who argued that Runcie should be terminated.

“I cannot and will not put myself above the needs of the district,” Runcie said.

Earlier in the day on Tuesday, Runcie released a video message, thanking people and organizations for their support and saying that he believes he will be vindicated after a grand jury indicted him for perjury.

“Elected officials, business leaders, community and nonprofit organizations and religious leaders – Black and brown, white, Hispanic, Creole, Portuguese, Muslim and Asian communities, not only locally but across the state and the country, have reached out to offer me support and express their concern. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart,” he said.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement officers arrested Runcie, 59, last Wednesday. Investigators accused Runcie of lying to a state grand jury while testifying under oath on March 31 and April 1.

He is facing a charge of perjury in an official proceeding.

WATCH: Full video message from Robert Runcie:

Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie released a video message Tuesday, thanking people and organizations for their support and saying that he believes he will be vindicated after a grand jury indicted him on a perjury charge.
Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie released a video message Tuesday, thanking people and organizations for their support and saying that he believes he will be vindicated after a grand jury indicted him on a perjury charge.

On Monday, the state responded to Runcie’s motion to dismiss the case accusing him of lying about his conversations with witnesses in Anthony Hunter’s case.

Hunter, Broward schools’ former chief information officer, was accused of bypassing the bidding process for school equipment and steering business to a generous friend. He was arrested on Jan. 12 for allegedly “rigging the process of awarding piggyback purchase contracts.” His case is pending.

In his video message, Runcie vowed to “continue to carry out my responsibilities as superintendent with the highest level of integrity and moral standards as I’ve done for nearly 10 years.”

The superintendent said he will be transparent with the School Board and community throughout the judicial process.

“I look forward to due process being followed, where individuals are treated fairly through the normal judicial system,” he said.

“Our district is going through a difficult time right now,” Runcie added. “It is how we cope during these difficult times that shows our true character and makes us stronger. The most positive action that any of us can take right now is to focus on our core mission of giving our students the best possible educational experience to prepare them for a successful future, and to instill in them the confidence to stand up for what is right.

“I thank each of you for your dedication to education and for continuing to do the important work of Broward County Public Schools. To all of our students, staff and community, I love you and I appreciate you. Thank you.”

The grand jury was investigating compliance with school safety laws, the alleged misuse of state funds designated for school safety measures, and whether officials are underreporting incidents of criminal activity in schools to the Department of Education.

FDLE officers also arrested Barbara Myrick, the School Board of Broward County’s attorney. Investigators accused her of an alleged unlawful disclosure related to the state grand jury’s proceedings on March 31 and April 14.

According to prosecutors, Myrick contacted witnesses in Hunter’s case on March 31 also to discuss “piggyback contracts” and “post-board” memos.

The School Board is holding a regularly scheduled workshop on Tuesday, but will discuss the indictments later in the afternoon. Comments will also be heard from the public.

According to Runcie’s contract, reasons for possible termination include “willful neglect of duty, material breach of contract and violation of the Code of Ethics,” although the School Board may also fire him without cause if the majority of School Board members vote to do so.


About the Authors:

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.

Amanda Batchelor is the managing editor for Local10.com.