MSD Teachers, Students Protest as 3 Assistant Principals, Security Specialist Reassigned

Staff reassigned based on information presented the state commission investigating February's shooting at the Parkland school

More than 50 teachers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School spent their Tuesday morning protesting and chanting "bring them back" in front of the Parkland school, a day after three assistant principals and a security specialist were reassigned based on information presented to the state commission investigating February's mass shooting.

Assistant Principal Jeff Morford, Assistant Principal Winfred Porter, Jr., Assistant Principal Denise Reed, and Security Specialist Kelvin Greenleaf have been reassigned to other administrative locations, according to a Monday news release from Broward County Public Schools.

"Many of the teachers are here because of our administrative team and now they're ripping out our team," said teacher and protest organizer Greg Pittman. "That is not helping the school stay together. Why did they wait until mid-November if they were such a problem or a threat?"

A student walkout in protest of the moves also took place Tuesday morning shortly before 11 a.m., with dozens of students walking out of the school.

The release didn't give a specific reason for the reassignments.

"BCPS is examining material received from the Commission to review the response by staff to the tragedy and preceding events. Evaluation will also be used to improve school safety and services to students," the release said.

Two weeks ago, the commission heard testimony that students told Morford in 2016 that suspected shooter Nikolas Cruz was researching guns and bragging about bringing a knife and bullets to school. Students said Morford told them to google the word "autism," but Morford told investigators that conversation never happened.

In a joint statement released Monday, the MSD faculty objected the reassignments and urged Superintendent Robert Runcie to reconsider.

"Removing an integral part of our administrative staff disrupts not only daily operations but the well-being of students and staff. This action does more to hurt the healing and continued education of our students," the statement said in part.

Lisa Maxwell, who heads the Broward Principals and Assistants Association, said Tuesday that her office is preparing to sue the school district to stop the reassignment of the three assistant principals. Maxwell says the reassignments are a political ploy to provide cover for the district's superintendent.

The commission is looking into the Feb. 14 Stoneman Douglas attack, which left 14 students and three staff members dead and left 17 others injured. The full interim report from the commission is to be presented in January 2019.

"They're operating on a set of facts and findings that clearly demonstrate violation of a school policy and unfortunately it contributed to the deaths of 17 individuals," said Ryan Petty, father of slain student Alaina Petty and a member of the commission.

Last week, it was announced that the Broward Sheriff's Office captain who was the commander at the shooting scene was resigning, and the first sergeant who responded to the shooting scene was placed on restrictive administrative duty pending an internal investigation.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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