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Superintendents Resigning, Haiti’s Future, Olympian Might Lose Chance At Tokyo

Guervens Jeune, left, Ralph Polynice, center, and Wedner Petit-Deu, stand and wait behind the Haitian flag outside the Little Haiti Cultural Complex on Jan. 12, 2016.
Carl Juste
Miami Herald
Guervens Jeune, left, Ralph Polynice, center, and Wedner Petit-Deu, stand and wait behind the Haitian flag outside the Little Haiti Cultural Complex on Jan. 12, 2016.

School districts across the country are seeing Superintendents resign or be pushed out in record numbers. Two South Florida counties are facing that issue. Plus, an update from Haiti, which is now under new leadership. And a South Floridian who qualified for the Olympics, but can’t compete in Tokyo.

On this, Wednesday, July 21, episode of Sundial.

Superintendents Resigning

Principals, teachers and school administrators are preparing for classes to begin in South Florida next month.

As the pandemic continues to spread, particularly among unvaccinated youth, schools have a lot of challenges on their hands. And they’re missing leadership.

WLRN is committed to providing South Florida with trusted news and information. As the pandemic continues, our mission is as vital as ever. Your support makes it possible. Please donate today. Thank you.

A recent investigation from the Washington Post reveals that superintendents across the country are leaving their jobs in droves. The pandemic has created rifts between parents, politicians, and teachers' unions.

“The job over the last few decades and certainly over the last decade has become far more complicated than ever for different reasons,” said Valerie Strauss, a reporter for the Washington Post. “It really is harder to find people who want to do it.”

She adds that politics, COVID-19 and funding tied to test scores have all contributed to making the job of a superintendent more difficult.

In South Florida, two districts are searching for someone to fill that top position.

Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie’s last day on the job will be Aug. 10, after he agreed to resign following his indictment on a perjury charge.

Palm Beach County Schools​​ Superintendent Donald Fennoy is also leaving, citing the pandemic and stress of last year. The district is looking for its fifth superintendent in the past decade.

“There also is a sort of a thirst for a return to focus on academics. The last few years have been really dominated by concerns about school security after the Parkland school shooting massacre," said Andrew Marra, a reporter for the Palm Beach Post. "And of course, the pandemic, where health issues were really dominating all the attention at the highest level. So academics have really taken a backseat, strangely enough."

Superintendents Resigning

Haiti’s Future

Slain Haitian President Jovenel Moise will be laid to rest this Friday as many within the country continue to mourn.

A group of powerful foreign governments and international organizations are known as the “Core Group” recommended that interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph step down so that Ariel Henry, who was appointed by President Moise, could take over.

He was then inaugurated as Prime Minister Tuesday.

Some have criticized the input from the U.S. and other international entities up to this point and worry about their intervention in the future.

“Haitians inside Haiti, in [the] vast majority, and Haitians in the diaspora do not want to see the core group nations dictating who or who is not the leader and who should or shouldn't be in a decision-making posture,” said Paul Christian Namphy, a lead organizer with the Family Action Network Movement, a non-profit organization supporting the Haitian diaspora in South Florida.

Henry has said that his main priority is to ensure fair and safe elections within the next 3 months. But not everyone is on board for expedited elections.

“No, none, zero, impossible,” said Namphy, about the country having elections just a few months from now. “We need this dialogue to really bring forth a mechanism where you can have legitimate decision makers. And it is those decision makers who can say how we need to move this forward. The constitution remains our compass. Most of the problems of Haiti are not caused by the current constitution, they're caused because people have refused to follow it and they're continuing to refuse to follow it."

Many within the Haitian diaspora in South Florida remain concerned about safety on the island as the investigation into Moise’s assassination continues.

Gang violence remains a critical problem, as well as rising COVID cases.

“The shock led to dismay over the fact that Haiti's on the news for all the wrong reasons. And then second, they are still dealing with unabated violence that you see without any sort of response from the police force or from anybody, for that matter. So you can imagine what it is to scrap a life out of this chaos and uncertainty,” said Pierre Imbert, the CEO of the Ayiti Community Trust. “There is a reason to think of a way for what we would call, the path forward, [and it] needs to include the Haitian voices. And those voices are being silenced.”

Haiti’s Future

Olympian Might Lose Chance At Tokyo

Aliyah Shipman is an 18-year-old taekwondo fighter from Plantation. She is Haitian-American and qualified to represent Haiti in the Tokyo Olympics.

But she’s not currently in Tokyo where the ceremonies kick off Friday. The U.S. Olympic Committee and other governing bodies have taken steps to disqualify her. Her family and lawyers say she didn’t violate any eligibility rules. Her case is now in court — but time is running out.

Read the full story here.

Olympian Might Lose Chance At Tokyo
Taekwondo athlete Aliyah Shipman poses for a photo in her uniform with a green photo background behind her

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Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the lead producer behind WLRN's daily magazine program, Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also works on visual and digital storytelling.