FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie and Rosalind Osgood, the District 5 member and chair of the School Board of Broward County, will be negotiating the terms of his separation from the district.
Osgood said on Tuesday that there will be an action item at Thursday’s school board meeting to give her the capacity to go and negotiate and work out the final terms to bring back to the board during a subsequent meeting.
“Right now, I can’t leave away from here and do anything until the action takes place on Thursday,” Osgood said.
The school board members met on Tuesday for a workshop and allowed Runcie to deliver a statement during a discussion about his status after his April 21st arrest. Runcie said “assault and attacks,” which include “inaccurate conspiracy theories,” made it difficult for him to lead the district.
“I cannot and will not put myself above the needs of this district and our children ... I am willing to discuss a path to a mutual agreement of separation ... I will sit down and work through an agreement,” said Runcie, who is facing a perjury charge after he allegedly lied to a state grand jury.
Runcie pled not guilty to the charge. Prosecutors said the case is related to Runcie’s communication with witnesses in a pending public corruption case.
Runcie didn’t mention the pending case which involves a former BCPS employee who is accused of taking bribes for contracts related to improving schools’ security. Instead, he said the Feb. 14, 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School “changed a lot.” He said the parents of MSD students organized to try to remove him.
“What I see is frustration and grievances. I think those are things that should be temporary,” Runcie said.
Runcie addressed Lori Alhadeff, the District 4 school board member, and the mother of 14-year-old Alyssa, who died in classroom 1216 during the MSD massacre that killed 16 others and wounded 17. During the workshop, she said he wanted to terminate him.
“I know you have been in enormous amounts of pain ... I am probably part of the source of that in some way, and so if it’s going to give you peace and those other parents who remain angry ... I will step aside,” Runcie told Alhadeff.
Runcie had a request for Alahadeff: He said he wanted her to focus on what is in the best interest of the students. Runcie said he has raised millions for MSD families and written letters, made phone calls, and nothing has changed.
“If that will help you to get some closure that you need in life to move on, and some of the other families that are still angry, because I have come to the conclusion there is nothing I can do ... so hopefully if I do that you will get some peace that you want,” Runcie said.
Runcie’s final direct statement to Alhadeff: “I am immensely sorry for your loss. I love you and hope that your future is better. You can’t erase the past but we will try to move forward.”
Runcie also said he has been with the district for nine and a half years after making a commitment in 2011 that he would try to stay for at least a decade. He said the average turnover for superintendents in large districts was about two to three years.
“You can’t get anything done in that period of time,” Runcie said. “One of the biggest challenges you have is instability in leadership.”
Runcie said his parents are immigrants who didn’t graduate from high school and worked hard. He said his mother scrubbed toilets in homes and his father was a construction laborer. He said he tries to bring that ethic of hard work and integrity to everything he does.
“I have always tried to do this work in a way that would make my mom and dad proud,” Runcie said, later adding a message to those kids who have working-class parents: “They can have the same opportunities that I’ve had in this country.”
Osgood said the board will discuss the issue again during the 11 a.m. meeting on Thursday to start negotiations. The board will later make a definitive decision on the mutual separation deals for Runcie and Barbara Myrick, BCPS’s top lawyer, who is also facing a charge related to her interaction with the same grand jury.
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