School board member whose daughter was killed in Parkland calls vote to fire Runcie

The Broward School Board will vote Tuesday on whether to terminate the contract of Superintendent Robert Runcie.

The proposal to terminate Runcie’s contract with cause effective immediately was proposed by first-year School Board member Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter Alyssa was among the 17 killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on Valentine’s Day 2018. The vote is scheduled for 11:15 a.m.

In an email, Alhadeff said Runcie has demonstrated “a history of poor leadership.”

“The urgency to do this now is because the district is spiraling out of control,” she said. “There was no one final straw, it’s a culmination of failures.”

Alhadeff told reporters she planned to work with Runcie, whom she described as “a good person” who implemented “a lot of positive change” when she first announced her candidacy for the school board last May. “This isn’t about replacing the superintendent.” she said at the time.

She wrote in an email Thursday to the Miami Herald, “Being in the district for the last three months has opened my eyes to lack of Mr. Runcie’s ability to execute safety and security with fidelity throughout the district for all students.”

Alhadeff amended her board item to include board members’ most recent evaluations of Runcie, which took place in October. It also included a copy of Runcie’s contract, first approved in 2011, and the most recent copy of the SMART bond oversight report. News of Alhadeff’s proposal to terminate Runcie was first reported by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

None of the eight other School Board members returned requests for comment. A majority of the board’s nine votes is needed to terminate Runcie’s contract.

The board members who could be in Alhadeff’s corner are Robin Bartleman, who has criticized Runcie and often sides with Alhadeff, and Nora Rupert, who gave Runcie a “needs improvement” rating on his October evaluations. Board members Patricia Good and Laurie Rich Levinson gave Runcie a rating of “highly effective” as the remaining board members rated him “effective.”

Many noted the need for improved communication efforts at Runcie’s direction.

“I am bringing it forward regardless if I have 5 votes or not,” Alhadeff wrote. “We are not under a grand jury investigation because the district is running so smoothly!”

Runcie makes $335,000 a year. His contract provides for all his unused and accumulated vacation and sick time to be paid out if he departs.

Broward’s African American community may have a large showing at the board meeting out of support for Runcie. Led by pastors and activists, many came by buses to a recent town hall in Coral Springs to defend Runcie, who they say improved graduation rates among black students and kept minority children out of the school-to-prison pipeline.

“Black people are a little frustrated right now,” said local radio personality Kelly “Big Man Kelly” Davis.

Runcie did not respond to requests for comment. A district spokeswoman said a statement from him was not available.