Broward school board votes 6-3 against appointing Cartwright as new superintendent

The majority of School Board of Broward County members were not ready to appoint the interim superintendent on Tuesday as the permanent superintendent.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The majority of School Board of Broward County members were not ready to appoint the interim superintendent on Tuesday as the permanent superintendent.

The nine-member board voted 6-3 against the appointment of Vickie Cartwright, the interim superintendent. Nora Rupert, who proposed the item, Donna P. Korn, and Rosalind Osgood were the supporting votes.

“I think she has risen to the challenge,” Korn said, adding she wanted to put the nationwide search by Ray and Associates on hold.

Members of the School board of Broward County Nora Rupert, left, Donna P. Korn, right, and Rosalind Osgood, center, said they are ready to appoint Vickie Cartwright, as the permanent superintendent. (BCPS)

The board agreed to hire Cartwright as the interim superintendent on July 28 and her term — with an annual base salary of $275,000 — began on Aug. 2. The agreement precludes her from applying for the job, and some school board members said they want to change that.

Osgood, the board’s chair, said she was ready to support appointing Cartwright, as the superintendent, to create stability during a crisis and said she was worried about the board’s lack of urgency.

“We are two months in. What’s different for me is we are in a pandemic,” Osgood said adding, “I don’t think we have a year or two to wait.”

Cartwright and Osgood have stood side by side in opposition to Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran’s punitive measures to carry out Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ban on face mask mandates.

The agenda item’s executive summary credited Cartwright’s “collaborative leadership style” with garnering the trust of many district partners and stakeholders.

Anna Fusco, the Broward Teachers Union president, said during the meeting that the school board needs Cartwright’s “new good leadership,” her experience in education, and her “grace and decency.”

From left, the school board members who voted against the appointment were Laurie Rich Levinson, Patricia Good, Sarah Leonardi, Lori Alhadeff Ann Murray and Debra Hixon. (BCPS)

Lori Alhadeff, a school board member, said the national search is important, but she wants to support a motion to change Cartwright’s contract, so she can apply for the permanent position in the future.

School board members Ann Murray and Laurie Rich Levinson said there needs to be a national search for a superintendent and a more inclusive process.

“She has only been here a short time,” Murray said.

Levinson, Murray and Debra Hixon, a school board member, said they are open to allowing Cartwright to apply for the job, but they weren’t ready to appoint her.

“An interim superintendent is a term that is made up. She is our superintendent,” Hixon said, later adding, she is “perfect for our district.”

Cartwright replaced Robert Runcie, the superintendent from 2011 to Aug. 10, as the interim superintendent after the school board agreed on his $754,900 separation agreement.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement officers arrested Runcie on April 21 on a state perjury charge. A grand jury investigating the 2018 Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland indicted Runcie for allegedly contacting a witness in a criminal case and denying it.

If school board members amend her contract and she applies for the job and gets hired, Cartwright would become the first woman to serve as a BCPS superintendent.

More about Cartwright

  • She earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Florida and master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi.
  • She was an adjunct instructor at the University of Central Florida.
  • She is Orlando County Public Schools’ former associate superintendent for exceptional students education.

5 p.m. report

Some Broward County school board members want to allow the interim superintendent to be able to apply for the permanent position.

3 p.m. report

The members of the School Board of Broward County are discussing to start a process to allow Vickie Cartwright, the interim superintendent, to apply for the permanent position.

Noon report

The members of the School Board of Broward County are meeting on Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale. The agenda includes an item to appoint Vickie Cartwright as the first woman to permanently serve as the superintendent of Broward County Public Schools.

Historic highlights: Public education in Broward County

1899: One-room schoolhouses open in Fort Lauderdale and Pompano

1906: A one-room schoolhouse opens for Black students in Fort Lauderdale

1915: Broward County Public Schools was established and the Fort Lauderdale High School building opens. James M. Holding, a Pembroke resident and graduate of North Carolina’s Wake Forest College, was the first superintendent.

1919: Holding resigns and C.E. Farrington, the former mayor of Fort Lauderdale, takes his post and decides not to run for election in 1920. The Florida Legislator passes an act on compulsory school attendance.

1921: James S. Rickards, the former principal of Fort Lauderdale High School, becomes the next BCPS superintendent.

1923: School board awards contract for a school in northwest Fort Lauderdale.

1924: Land is purchased to build Old Dillard School.

1925: Board approves the construction of an Oakland Park school building.

1946: Dillard students begin a nine-month school calendar.

1962: Area school students practice “duck and cover drills” in anticipation of a nuclear attack.

1970: Attorney George Allen, of the Fort Lauderdale NAACP, wins a suit for the “complete desegregation” of Broward County schools.

1971: Federal appeals court orders mandatory busing to achieve integration at Broward schools.

1974: Kathleen C. Wright, a former teacher at Dillard High, becomes the first Black elected to the Broward County School Board.

1985: Wright, the former school board chairwoman, was killed in an airplane crash.

1991: The Broward County School District employees relocate portables to the Kathleen C. Wright Administration Building.

Source: Broward County Libraries and Florida Virtual Campus Journal.

About the Authors:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.