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The South Florida Roundup

Broward's superintendent search, a lawsuit against the NFL, and a new plan for handling peacocks

Charles Trainor Jr.
Miami Herald

The search for a superintendent of schools in Broward County is down to two. A fiery lawsuit against the Miami Dolphins and the entire NFL alleging bribery and racism, plus peacocks: Love them or hate them, they may lose some of the protections they enjoy.

From a pool of 1,000 prospective applicants, down to 39, narrowed to four and finally down to two. The search for a superintendent of Broward County public schools is down to its finalists, and one of them has been doing the job all school year long.

The second largest school district in the state has been without a permanent boss since August when Robert Runcie resigned, facing perjury charges. He said he was stepping down to give peace to the families of victims of the Parkland school shooting.

The two final candidates are Vickie Cartwright and Michael Gaal. Cartwright is currently the interim superintendent of Broward County Schools.

She brings 26 years of experience in public education. Before Broward, she was superintendent of schools for Oshkosh Area School District in Wisconsin. She told the Broward County Public School Board she’s proven herself on the job and worked with the community on issues like student safety.

WLRN’s Education Reporter Kate Payne said she is the traditional candidate, having worked her way up the ranks from teacher to superintendent. She’s earned plenty of support from the Broward Teachers Union and the Broward Principals and Associates Association.

Gaal is a former administrator in Washington D.C. Public Schools and a 25-year veteran of the Air Force. Payne said he is more of a hybrid candidate, who climbed a different path. He’s a career military individual, transitioning into public education and ed-tech in the private sector afterwards.

According to WLRN’s Education Reporter Kate Payne, one of the key preferred qualifications that came up in discussions with the board was classroom teaching experience.

“Michael Gaal has talked about having instructional work with the Air Force, teaching pilots in the Air Force, but he does not have that teaching experience in a K-12 setting,” Payne said on The South Florida Roundup “ That’s a sticking point point for some board members who feel that the superintendent should follow that track of teacher, principal, top administrator.”

One of the biggest challenges presented to the finalists was the legacy of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High and the mental health and safety of students in the county.

One of the things Gaal did in the days leading up to the interview was touring Broward County Schools, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High was the first place he went.

He shared a moment with board member Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter Alyssa was killed, and Gaal told her this was preventable.

Both candidates expressed importance and concern for students, detailing plans for aligning resources across the district to prevent tragedies, working with local law enforcement, and connecting students and staff to existing mental health resources.

To get involved with the process, there will be a “meet the finalists” community event on Tuesday. Written public comments for the final meeting , and more information about the event can be found at https://www.browardschools.com/supersearch

Blockbuster lawsuit: NFL League sued for discrimination and the owner of the Miami Dolphin’s sued for bribery.

The Miami Dolphins' season ended a month ago with a win against Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. Normally a moment to celebrate for Dolphin fans.

Four days later, Dolphins head coach Brian Flores was fired after three seasons. At the time, team owner Stephen Ross said he didn’t think the organization was working well in order to win consistently.

This week, Flores fired back with a scorching civil lawsuit against the Dolphins and every NFL team. The lawsuit claims there is systemic racism in the league, and there was an attempt at bribing him to lose games in Miami.

The claims of discrimination stem from Flores’ situation with the New York Giants, where he was poised to interview with them for the position of head coach. Before his interview, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick texted Flores to say congratulations on receiving the position.

This text revealed that the Giants had already selected Brian Daboll as their head coach.

According to Miami Herald sports writer David Nelson, this is what led Flores to calling his interview “a sham.” Flores claims they selected him for an interview only to fulfill the Rooney Rule, which states that for certain positions teams are required to interview two external minority candidates.

This situation acts as evidence that teams are circumventing the Rooney Rule.

The claims of bribery come from the 2019 NFL season, which is when Flores was hired. In the NFL, the teams with the worst records get the first pick in the draft. The Miami Dolphins started 0-7 and ended 5-11, landing the 5th pick in the draft.

Trading your best players and losing games is called tanking, and it is a strategy to get a better pick in the next draft, but it is unheard of for the owner of a team to bribe the head coach to tank for this reason. Flores claims Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered him $100,000 a game if he lost them.

If the bribing allegations are true, then he will have to sell the team.

The county taking slight action against peacocks

The Indian Peafowl — pavo cristatus. The peacock.

They have been a staple of Miami-Dade for years. Twenty years ago, Miami-Dade County passed a law against capturing or harming the birds.

They gather in musters … calling about, stopping traffic, nesting in our yards.

Complaints about peacocks vary, from them being aggressive during mating season, to squawking at all hours of the day while stomping on rooftops, to defecating everywhere.

On Tuesday, Miami-Dade County changed its original law protecting the birds. Cities can opt out if they present a plan that humanely removes peacocks from areas where they’re not wanted.

The sponsor of this ordinance change was Miami-Dade District 7 Commissioner Raquel Regalado, who said her district has the most peacocks. This is the start of mating season and they get plenty of complaints throughout it.

She said this is more than just about “eradicating” peacocks, but more about managing their populations and moving them around if possible.

“One peacock, two peacock, three peacock, four, most people are fine with small numbers,” Regalado said. “Most people are fine with small numbers, but because they’ve had this protection for many years, in some areas there are too many peafowl.”

She also said that as we go into mating season, each adult female peacock lays 13 to 30 eggs, which is the issue — their population growth.

However, no sanctuary in Florida will take peacocks. Because peacocks are invasive non-native species, they can’t be released into the wild. They are opportunistic omnivores and eat the eggs of other birds and creatures.

The Audubon Society wants nothing to do with peacocks because they are invasive and they feel that they actually harm other birds. The state also wants nothing to do with them either.

Regalado said that most zoologists have recommended that reducing the nesting would be the best solution. This can be done by literally taking and moving their eggs elsewhere, but the question is where?

She said it's important to remember that no one wants to harm the peacocks — this is instead about controlling the population.

“Peacocks remain protected in Miami-Dade County, nothing has changed,” she said. “The only thing that we’ve changed is that cities can now bring a plan for peacock management.”

For now, peacocks will still reign and remain. In the future, there may be a new space for peacocks to lord over.

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Natu Tweh is WLRN's Morning Edition Producer. He also reports on general news out of South Florida.