FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Amid pressure from Gov. Ron DeSantis’s administration, Broward County Public Schools superintendent asked three administrators to resign or take a leave of absence while they remain under investigation, according to sources who are familiar with the BCPS administration.
Superintendent Vickie L. Cartwright made the request to Jeff Moquin, the chief of staff; David Watkins, the director of diversity and school climate; and Ron Morgan, the assistant chief building official, the sources told Local 10 News on Friday.
Cartwright’s office released a statement on Thursday saying the Broward County school district welcomed a recent visit by Florida Department of Education officials.
“As soon as next week’s board meeting, the superintendent will provide an update to the board and community,” a spokesperson wrote.
Cartwright was responding to a letter she received from Tim Hay, the executive director of The Florida Department of Education’s Office of Safe Schools, referring to the state grand jury report that recently resulted in the suspension of four school board members.
Hay asked Cartwright to “take real and decisive action” with the “key members” of former Superintendent Robert Runcie’s leadership team; staff “directly named” in the state grand jury report and procurement staff associated with the district’s SMART program.
Hay warned any failure to act “could only be perceived as the district’s tacit endorsement of past and future ineptitude.”
The state grand jury report mentions Moquin as Runcie’s chief of staff first on page 29. Later on page 38, the grand jury uses the same words Hay used in his letter.
“The District has committed itself to a scope of work that is far in excess of the funds it has available,” the grand jury wrote. “When confronted with this unavoidable reality, [Moquin] summed the situation up succinctly by saying, “[i]t is what it is.”
In his letter, Hay warned Cartwright.
“These remaining district officials have not taken ownership of their barefaced failures and continue to perpetuate an ‘it is what it is’ philosophy,” Hay wrote.
The state grand jury report also mentions Watkins on pages 105-106 accusing him of demonstrating that the district was “in dire straits” on the issue of School Environmental Safety Incident Reporting.
Morgan was first mentioned on page 52 as the grand jury cites he used to be the district’s chief building official and was removed in 2009, after a “conviction for being improperly licensed to serve in that capacity.”
The grand jury also mentions deputy superintendent Judith Marte on page 72 about a report during a public meeting as a chief financial officer under Runcie. It also mentions Derek Messier as the chief facilities officer first on page 35; Leon Bobadilla on page 42; Robert Hamberger and Maria Louisa Rouco on page 52.
Hay’s letter Wednesday and Cartwright’s statement Thursday did not refer to any of them specifically by name. The next School Board of Broward County meeting is set for 10:05 a.m., on Sep 13.
Read Hay’s letter: