Broward County Public School District Superintendent Robert Runcie has been arrested for committing perjury before a jury investigating school safety, the possible misuse of state safety funds, and fraud. In addition, General Counsel Barbara Myrick is being charged with unlawfully disclosing secret grand jury proceedings.
The Broward County School District includes Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which Runcie oversaw at the time of the mass shooting in 2018. Runcie originally hails from Chicago and reportedly had close ties to the Obama administration.
The investigation involves the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act that was passed following the deadly Parkland school shooting that claimed the lives of 17 students and staff on Valentine’s Day in 2018. Then-Gov. Rick Scott signed the legislation into law.
The grand jury was looking into a number of issues including whether school officials knowingly committed fraud and deceit by mismanaging, failure to use, and diverting of funds from multimillion-dollar bonds that were intended for school safety initiatives.
(Video Credit: CBS Miami)
The charge against Runcie is a third-degree felony. He is claiming he is innocent and will be exonerated of all charges. His attorneys are stating that “politics” are to blame for his arrest. “We are confident that he will be exonerated,” they proclaimed.
Runcie’s attorneys said that he is fully cooperating in the investigation as authorities were unclear on how he perjured himself, according to WPLG.
“It is a sad day in Broward County and across Florida when politics become more important than the interests of our students. Superintendent Runcie has fully cooperated with law enforcement throughout this statewide grand jury process,” attorneys from the law offices of Dutko & Kroll said in a statement.
“This morning, we received a copy of an indictment that does not shed any light on what false statement is alleged to have been made. He will continue to be transparent with the board, the parents, and the public with any new information he receives,” the statement said.
Runcie’s detractors are claiming that bullying, crimes, and other issues at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas and other district schools were routinely underreported. They also contend that he did not do many voluntary security assessments.
Myrick’s charge for “knowingly and unlawfully public, broadcast, disclose or communicate to another person outside the statewide grand jury room any of the proceedings” is also a third-degree felony.
Both Runcie and Myrick were arrested on Wednesday at the district’s administrative building. Many were shocked by the arrests. Neither was reportedly still in custody later that day.
Here are the indictments filed in the Supreme Court of Florida:
Rosalind Osgood, the chairwoman of the Broward County School Board, said in a statement that the district would continue with its normal operations for the time being.
Runcie came to the district in 2011 after a career in business. He entered the education arena in the early 2000s and was the chief of staff to Chicago’s Board of Education. That is where he forged his ties to Obama administration officials Rahm Emanuel and Arne Duncan.
Although Runcie was praised for increasing Broward County School District’s graduation rate, he was heavily criticized for lax disciplinary policies in connection to the PROMISE program. Those allegedly led to Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz being able to briefly attend Stoneman Douglas a year before the shooting took place even though he had a history of violent behavioral problems.
Tony Montalto lost his 14-year-old daughter, Gina, in the massacre. He is now the president of the Stand With Parkland nonprofit. Montalto praised the arrests: “We’re happy that Gov. [Ron] DeSantis created the grand jury to investigate the failings of school districts in the state of Florida,” he noted. “The grand jury is doing its job by holding the people who are responsible for the safety of our children and staff members accountable. We know that Mr. Runcie’s poor leadership contributed to the Parkland tragedy.”
He went on: “All of our families suffered terribly, and his misdeeds affected every family that sent students to school in Broward County.”
Kyle Kashuv, who survived the massacre, tweeted: “I’m asking everyone who follows me to share this story. Three years ago a monster killed 17 people at my High School. Local officials’ corruption allowed it to happen. Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie arrested on a perjury charge. Justice.”
Hunter Pollack who lost his sister Meadow in the shooting, also tweeted on the development: “Those who allowed Meadow to be murdered will be held accountable. All of their failures will be brought to light. In light of his arrest on perjury charges, now is the time for Robert Runcie to step down or be removed. The teachers and students in Broward country deserve better.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis impaneled the grand jury in 2019.
Runcie was lambasted on social media:
— Ryan Petty (@rpetty) April 21, 2021
Nothing surprises me when I hear it comes out of Broward County. That’s Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s neck of the woods.
— Leo Scone (@leoscone) April 21, 2021
Karma …. is for real folks.
— Emilio Gonzalez (@RildeGonzalez) April 21, 2021
I’m sure I could think of a few others that should be going down with him… let’s see
— RStuart16 (@Rstuart16) April 21, 2021
It is, without a doubt, the most corrupt county in FL. Not a lot of hope here but today there is some.
— The Constitution Matters (@User_6788) April 21, 2021
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