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'Threats Of Protests' Lead Broward Schools Superintendent To Nix Stoneman Douglas Parent Meeting

Charles Trainor Jr.
Miami Herald
Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie outlines changes he has implemented in the district since last year's deadly shooting. School board members stand beside him, including Lori Alhadeff (far right), whose daughter Alyssa was killed.

Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie abruptly canceled a meeting with Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School parents over concerns that the event might draw protesters.

The forum — organized by Stoneman Douglas parent groups and billed as a question-and-answer session with Runcie and other district leaders — was planned for Thursday night in the Parkland school's auditorium.

"Today, numerous threats of protests on social media created an unacceptable risk for students who will be attending events on campus tomorrow evening," a spokeswoman for Runcie said in an email. She said Runcie would soon try to set up meetings with parents who want to share concerns with him.

Principal Ty Thompson sent the same message to the school community on Wednesday, according to an email obtained by WLRN's news partner The Miami Herald.

The parent groups that planned the event tweeted it was Runcie's decision to cancel and added they were "extremely disappointed."

Runcie held a news conference last week to defend the district's response to the shooting and outline steps his administration has taken to secure schools during the last year. Seventeen people were killed and another 17 were injured during the Feb. 14 massacre.

Runcie has been under increased pressure for his response to the shooting since a state investigative commission revealed mistakes by school staff. Members of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission have also accused the district of lacking "a sense of urgency" in implementing changes.

Andrew Pollack — whose daughter Meadow was killed in the massacre, and who served briefly on the state Board of Education — has continued to push for Runcie to be fired.

Also, a small group of protesters appeared at a school board meeting last week to call for Runcie's ouster.

Jessica Bakeman is senior editor for news at WLRN, South Florida's NPR member station. Previously, Bakeman served as WLRN's education reporter for four years. Bakeman was awarded the 2020 Journalist of the Year award from the Florida chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.