From the Sun-Sentinel:
By David Fleshler | May 11, 2018
The Broward school district’s repeated, emphatic — and it turns out, false — statements that Nikolas Cruz had not been in a controversial disciplinary program fit a pattern of an institution on the defensive and under siege.Facing significant legal and political exposure over the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the district has tried to keep information from the public and put out untrue and misleading statements, frustrating parents who say this is the time for maximum transparency.
The district is fighting in court against the release of school surveillance video. It flatly refused to issue any records regarding the shooting to the news media, in a possible violation of the state’s open-records law. Superintendent Robert Runcie has blocked critics, including parents, from his Twitter account. More than two months after the shooting, a Broward Sheriff’s detective told a state commission on school safety that he was still waiting for the district to provide all of Cruz’s disciplinary records.
The worst came last week, when Runcie acknowledged that his forceful denials that Cruz had been involved in the Promise program, which is intended to provide an alternative to the arrest of students for minor offenses, were wrong. The district had repeatedly dismissed as “fake news” suggestions that Cruz was in the program.
“It would appear that the district is more interested in protecting their programs than they are the students and teachers in our schools,” said Ryan Petty, whose 14-year-old daughter, Alaina, was killed by Cruz during his rampage through the school. “As a father, I would ask the district to please be completely transparent so we can make sure this doesn’t happen to any other children in any other schools in Florida.”
In an interview, Runcie said the district has held nothing back from authorities, providing records as soon as they could be gathered. Any delays reflect the state of the district’s record-keeping systems, he said, not a reluctance to cooperate. He said he would look into the issue of the blanket refusals to provide documents to the news media.
From Superintendent Runcie’s biography page on the Broward County schools’ website:
Superintendent Runcie knows first-hand how a high-quality education can transform a person’s life. Born in Jamaica, he moved to the United States as a young boy and became the first member of his family to attend college, graduating from Harvard University and earning an MBA from Northwestern University. He later founded a management and technology consulting company and held several strategic leadership positions with Chicago Public Schools, including serving as its Chief Information Officer, Chief Administrative Officer, Chief Area Instructional Officer and Chief of Staff to the Board of Education.
Superintendent Runcie proudly joined Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) in 2011. With the support of a dynamic School Board, Mr. Runcie developed a strategic plan for the District focusing on three key areas: high-quality instruction, continuous improvement and more effective communications.
So, we are being told that a man who “founded a management and technology consulting company” and was once “Chief Information Officer” for the Chicago public schools, and “developed a strategic plan” focusing on, among other things, “more effective communication” oversees a school records division that doesn’t have recent records computerized, and easily accessed?
Let me be plain here: the Broward County schools and superintendent are trying to cover their asses!
The Sun-Sentinel article noted that Mr Runcie stated, on February 28, 2018, that Nikolas Cruz was not part of the so-called ‘Promise’ program which didn’t report most in-school crimes to the police. In a March 24, 2018, column for the Sun-Sentinel Mr Runcie called reports that yes, Mr Cruz was in that program “fake news.” This all turned out to be false. While Mr Runcie claimed that he, a former Chief Information Officer, hadn’t had all of the information, a four week time lapse between the first statement and his column was plenty of time to get the information.
Mr Runcie and his minions are doing everything in their power to save their own jobs right now. They don’t give a damn about anything else, they don’t care about the truth — especially the truth, because it would reveal how incompetent they are — about complying with Florida’s open records laws, about transparency or the larger community, only about keeping their jobs. Mr Runcie, who in November of 2017, just three months before Mr Cruz’ killing spree received a contract extension until June 30, 2023, makes $335,000 a year, paid for by the taxpayers’ dollars, yet he is doing everything he possibly can to keep information about the school shootings, information about his own failures, from the taxpayers.
To say that Mr Runcie need to be held accountable means that he needs to be terminated, fired, let go, dismissed. That is up to the Broward County School Board, of course, but the School Board is answerable to the voters: six school board seats, out of a total of nine, are up for election this year, and every school board candidate who does not commit to discharging the Superintendent should be defeated. More, the School Board candidates should make commitments to complete transparency and to open all records concerning Nikolas Cruz, and what actions the school took concerning him prior to the shooting.
This involves more than just Mr Runcie’s poor decisions, failures and attempts to cover up. Holding him and his minions accountable means that superintendents of other school districts will see what has happened, and realize that if they follow the same idiotic policies Broward County did, and something bad happens, they, too, will be filing for unemployment benefits.
Cross-posted on The First Street Journal.