Call it a rally for Runcie.
More than 50 people, including politicians, business owners, and church pastors, gathered in front of the Broward County Public Schools building Friday and minced no words as they showed their support for the embattled superintendent, Robert Runcie.
“If you don’t stand for those who stand for us, then who do you stand for and what do you stand for?” asked business owner Basil Bernard, rhetorically.
Runcie’s supporters praise him for what they claim is a job well-done and, they say, for the type of person he is.
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“The man that I know Robert Runcie to be is a man of integrity, a man who commits his life to students and faculty,” said Bob Swindell, the president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, the economic development group which staged the event.
Runcie’s supporters seem unified in the belief that this week's perjury indictment against Runcie is a so-called political witch hunt.
“It is a political castration of a man, his good name and the future of those like him who would dare go against the grain and the status quo, this past Wednesday he was made a public spectacle without even knowing why,” said Pastor Derrick Hughes of the Piney Grove Baptist Church.
“You know if we were a banana republic and you had a secret jury and you came up with ambiguous charges, then we would understand that, but this is not a banana republic,” said State Senator Perry Thurston, (D-Fort Lauderdale).
Runcie’s lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the perjury charge against him Friday, in part because they say the indictment is intentionally vague, designed to embarrass him, and could lead to an inadequate defense because the details of what he is alleged to have lied about are not known.
So they are also asking for what’s called a motion of particulars, which would reveal the details in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s case against the superintendent.
Friday’s rally showed the bridges Runcie has built to the business community during his ten years at the helm of the nation’s 6th largest school district.
"As a business leader in Broward, since Bob Runcie took over, he has worked tirelessly, head down, high integrity, to drive student performance for all kids, that’s why I’m here to say we need Bob Runcie, we appreciate Bob Runcie, and we’re grateful for the great work he does,” said Keith Koenig, the CEO of City Furniture.
Beyond the business and faith communities, Runcie has reached out to non-profit groups and integrated them into the school district, according to the CEO of the United Way of Broward, Kathleen Cannon.
“So many different initiatives that have come into the classroom to support the holistic child so for the non-profit community, we are behind superintendent Runcie,” Cannon said.
The writer of the Red Broward political blog, Tom Lauder, attended the event and called it shameful.
"Perjury is a serious crime, and it goes to honesty, and does the greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance allow its employees to commit perjury in front of a grand jury?” Lauder said.
The school board will consider the fates of Runcie and school board attorney Barbara Myrick, who was indicted on a charge of allegedly leaking grand jury information, on Tuesday.