What to Know
- Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie offered to step down at a school board meeting Tuesday
- The meeting came less than a week after Runcie was arrested on a perjury charge
- Earlier Tuesday, Runcie released a video saying he would be vindicated in the perjury case but at the meeting said he would step down to give Parkland parents 'peace'
Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie has offered to step down following his arrest last week on a perjury charge.
Runcie, who came into the national spotlight after the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, addressed his future with the district at a Broward County School Board meeting Tuesday, saying it may be time to step aside.
"If the environment is not as such that I can do my very best I'm willing to discuss a path to a mutual agreement of separation as you describe," Runcie said.
Runcie also spoke directly to some of the parents from the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas.
""I know you've been in enormous amounts of pain that none of us can ever imagine, and I guess I'm probably part of the source of that in some way. And so if it's going to give you peace, and it's going to give you and those other parents who remain angry, because I don't see how there's anything else I can do, if it's going to give you that, I will step aside so you can have the peace that you are looking for," Runcie said.
In a video message released Tuesday morning, Runcie had thanked his supporters and addressed his arrest.
"I am confident that I will be vindicated and I intend to continue to carry out my responsibilities as superintendent with the highest level of integrity and moral standards as I have done for nearly 10 years," Runcie said. "I look forward to due process being followed where individuals are treated fairly through the normal judicial system."
"I will continue to be transparent with the board, with all the Broward County Public Schools parents, and with the entire community," Runcie said. "Our district is going through a difficult time right now. It is how we cope during these difficult times that shows our true character and makes us stronger."
At the meeting, Runcie and the board heard from his supporters and detractors.
“Number one, he is the best superintendent we ever had in Broward County, number 2, he is a great role model for our kids, number three, I don’t believe he did anything wrong," Thaddeus Hamilton said.
"If you are being accused of perjury and lying, isn’t that one of the foremost values that we teach our children, is to be honest and tell the truth? So if you lied, what are you hiding?" said Jenna Hague.
Prosecutors said Monday that Runcie, who was arrested last Wednesday by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, had prepared for his testimony before a statewide grand jury by contacting witnesses in a criminal case and then lied about it when asked.
The statewide prosecutor’s office released the details in a court filing after Runcie's attorneys filed a court motion last week demanding specifics about the charges against him, the Sun Sentinel reported. The state’s response explains why Runcie was charged with perjury in an official proceeding and why Broward Schools General Counsel Barbara Myrick was charged with disclosing the grand jury’s top secret proceedings.
The charges stem from the January indictment of former Broward Schools technology chief Tony Hunter, who was charged with rigging contracts for technology equipment for the district. Runcie contacted witnesses in Hunter’s case to prepare for his own testimony, prosecutors said. Myrick also contacted witnesses and discussed them with Runcie before he testified, which helped form the basis of the charges against her, officials said.
According to an indictment issued by the grand jury earlier this month and released after Runcie’s arrest, the superintendent lied when he testified before the panel last month, but it gave no specifics about the alleged falsehood. The jury is investigating whether districts are following school safety laws, including those implemented after the Parkland school shooting that claimed the lives of 17 students and staff members.
Attorneys for Runcie, 59, released a statement last week saying he plans to plead not guilty. If convicted of perjury, Runcie faces up to five years in prison.
Runcie has been with BCPS since 2011, after working as chief administrative officer for Chicago Public Schools. Broward is the nation's sixth largest public school system.
Some parents criticized Runcie after the Parkland shooting for programs they felt had been lenient toward the shooter.
Runcie, by a 6-3 vote, survived a 2019 motion by the school board that sought to have him removed. The attempt was led by Lori Alhadef, who was elected to the board after her 14-year-old daughter, Alyssa, was killed in the shooting.
The superintendent’s critics said bullying and other school problems were routinely underreported by Stoneman Douglas and other district schools and few did voluntary security assessments. Stoneman Douglas reported zero incidents of bullying among its 3,200 students between 2014 and 2017 and three incidents of vandalism, for example.
Runcie's supporters have praised him for increasing the district's graduation rate, improving schools districtwide and reaching out to minority communities.