FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Broward Schools Superintendent Vickie Cartwright has only been on the job since February and she was already having to defend her job on Tuesday.
In her recent 33-page self-evaluation, Cartwright rated herself as “highly effective.” Six of the nine Broward County School Board members ranked her as “effective.”
The other three members — Gov. Ron DeSantis appointees Manuel Serrano, Kevin Tynan, and Torey Alston — did not submit written evaluations, but Alston, the chair, listed 15 areas of concern and said Cartwright had displayed “failure of leadership.”
In response, the chief of staff sent a 48-page memo to school board members.
“I would encourage the public to read the responses ... because in there you will see a significant amount of work with urgency,” Cartwright said adding she had done the work of two years in three months.
Ultimately, the board decided late Tuesday night to provide Cartwright with a list of problematic areas that they say she must address in writing in the next 90 days.
Cartwright delivered a presentation based on the memo. She said there was a need to focus on core academic instruction and the projects needed to improve roofing issues at schools. She was also apologetic.
“There has been such instability in the past five years of this school district. I wasn’t clear enough to keep rumors calm and I accept responsibility for that,” Cartwright said.
DeSantis said a 2021 grand jury report after the grand jury indicted former Superintendent Robert Runcie and former General Counsel Barbara Myrick required “reform” at Broward County Public Schools. But DeSantis’s appointments, except for Alston, have until the Nov. 8 election.
As the school board members were considering the fate of Cartwright, Interim General Counsel Marylin Batista, who replaced Myrick last year, and Chief Auditor Joris Jabouin, Alston said there was a let’s “get to November” culture in the school district.
“These conversations are tough so I apologize to those in the public and members of this board but you must have the tough conversations,” Alston said.
“If you believe in the Constitution, allow us to choose our leaders and allow us our freedoms,” Matthew Sparks, an Oakland Park commissioner, said in protest.
Nathalie Lynch-Walsh, the Broward Schools Facilities Task Force chair, was among Cartwright’s critics. She accused her of not building bridges with communities.
“Find a way to put an end to having a bad superintendent before the superintendent becomes worse because that is where this is going,” Lynch-Walsh said.
Shea Ciriago, of the Broward Education Foundation, was among Cartwright’s supporters.
“You are doing the absolute best that you can,” Ciriago told Cartwright during a recent public meeting.
Bobby Henry, the publisher of the Westside Gazette, warned Cartwright about the nature of the discussions and said, “Now Mrs. Cartwright, it has become personal.”
Alston’s list on Cartwright