Robert Runcie, the superintendent of Broward County schools who cut back sharply on discipline in schools before the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, was arrested Wednesday on a charge of perjury in an official proceeding. School board attorney Barbara Myrick was also charged with unlawfully disclosing grand jury proceedings.
Whether refusal or failure to follow the mandates of school-related safety laws, such as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act, results in unnecessary and avoidable risk to students across the state;
Whether public entities committed – and continue to commit – fraud and deceit by accepting state funds conditioned on implementation of certain safety measures while knowingly failing to act;
Whether school officials committed – and continue to commit – fraud and deceit by mismanaging, failing to use, and diverting funds from multi-million-dollar bonds specifically solicited for school safety initiatives; and
Whether school officials violated – and continue to violate – state law by systematically underreporting incidents of criminal activity to the Florida Department of Education.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said in a statement:
FDLE agents arrested Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie, 59, for perjury in an official proceeding, a felony. Runcie was arrested this morning by FDLE as was Broward County School Board General Counsel Barbara Myrick, 72. Myrick is charged with unlawful disclosure of statewide grand jury proceedings, a felony.
The 20th Statewide Grand Jury charged Runcie and Myrick related to their testimony before the grand jury. The grand jury was impaneled to investigate possible failures in following school-related safety laws and mismanaging funds solicited for school safety initiatives.
Runcie and Myrick were booked into the Broward County Jail. Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Office of Statewide Prosecution is prosecuting the case. Information relating to the grand jury has been sealed by the court.
Runcie was college friends with Arne Duncan, President Barack Obama’s secretary of education. When Duncan ran the Chicago public schools, he named Runcie head of the district’s IT department. With a letter of recommendation from Duncan, Runcie then became superintendent of Broward, the sixth-largest school district in the country.
Duncan also appointed Robert Runcie’s brother, James Runcie, to lead the department’s Federal Student Aid office. Judicial Watch found that under James Runcie’s leadership there was “pervasive fraud and corruption … including skirting federal rules to hire friends and family and hefty off-the-books cash bonuses.” James Runcie gave himself $443,000 in bonuses while improper payments by his office totaled $6 billion.
In Broward, Robert Runcie, concerned with racial “disparities” in discipline, set up a “discipline matrix” that did not require schools to notify law enforcement even in cases of felonies. Reported infractions plummeted, but without making schools safer. School officials reportedly had numerous serious run-ins with the eventual school shooter but put few of them on his record.
Broward also failed to implement safety measures despite getting money to do so. The Daily Wire previously reported:
As superintendent, Runcie convinced the Broward County taxpayers to fund an $800 million bond initiative called “Safety, Music, Renovation, and Technology,” or “SMART.” According to Florida TaxWatch, in the first four years of the SMART bond’s existence, the district only spent 5% of the money on safety projects, which was far below what the district was claiming to be spending.
Following the SMART bonds creation in 2014… Increased measures included a single point of access into schools, upgraded fire systems, video upgrades, fiber optics, fencing, and more. Four years later, at the time of the massacre, none of these protections were in place.
After the shooting, Runcie’s department went on the defensive.
When school board chair Nora Rupert criticized the system’s actions, she became “victim of threats and intimidation by the school district, Mr. Runcie, and others who have a different political and policy view than you,” according to a deposition, with Runcie “perpetuating a myth that I was a racist, going into my communities, my African-American churches, galvanizing them, bringing buses to intimidate.”
Andy Pollack, the father of Parkland shooting victim Meadow Pollack, wrote a book with education expert Max Eden that focused on the school district’s self-interested coverup of the failure.
It ended on a note of despondency, with a teacher who protected children at Parkland asking, “How can you have the mass murder of schoolchildren, have the district treat the survivors like sh-t as our leaders showboat on CNN, have Runcie get caught twice covering up key facts and flip-flip on everything. And then have everyone endorse the status quo?”
After the shooting, the Council of the Great City Schools, a group of urban school administrators, gave Runcie a “Courage Under Crisis” award.
But with the charge against Runcie, the tide could be changing.
Earlier this month, two Texas school board members were separately indicted on charges that they violated the Open Meetings Act as they discussed a racial agenda that was widely opposed by their constituents.