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Broward school board to vote on superintendent's fate - again

Superintendent Vickie Cartwright speaks to reporters after the school board voted to rescind her firing on Dec.13. Board Chair Lori Alhadeff (left) voted to keep Cartwright fired.
Gerard Albert III
Superintendent Vickie Cartwright speaks to reporters after the school board voted to rescind her firing on Dec.13. Board Chair Lori Alhadeff (left) voted to keep Cartwright fired.

Two months after she was fired for the first time, the fate of Superintendent Vickie Cartwright will be decided during Tuesday's Broward school board meeting — maybe this time once and for all.

The board, made up now of seven elected members and two members appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, will vote whether to terminate Cartwright who has been in the role for about a year-and-a-half.

There are two termination proposals on Tuesday's meeting agenda. The first, filed by board member Allen Zeman, allows Cartwright to stay in her position until July 1, if the board votes to fire her. That's almost 100 days longer than the 60-day notice required in her contract.

The second proposal, filed by Board Chairwoman Lori Alhadeff, would send Cartwright packing much earlier: March 25.

Alhadeff told the Sun Sentinel, “I think it’s important to have this done and executed according to her contract and as quickly as possible ... I don’t think it’s healthy for this district to keep continuing with Dr. Cartwright’s leadership after she is terminated. I think it creates more disruption and chaos.”

Four of the current nine board members — Lori Alhadeff, Torey Alston, Brenda Fam and Daniel Foganholi — have previously supported replacing Cartwright.

In Tuesday's meeting, Cartwright also plans to present board members with an update on the work she has done in an effort to keep her job.

Termination talk started with DeSantis appointee

In an emotional October meeting, the board gave Cartwright 90 days to address concerns on district culture, community engagement and accountability.

In a November meeting 19 days later, board member Daniel Foganholi—a DeSantis appointee— made a surprise motion to fire Cartwright. He had the votes thanks to four other board members who were also appointed by DeSantis.

Foganholi and three other appointees were soon replaced by four elected board members who then voted to rescind Cartwright's firing, mostly because of how it happened.

Gov. DeSantis appointed Foganholi back to the board again on Dec. 22 after Rod Velez — the elected member — failed to be sworn in because of questions about his eligibility to hold public office.

Allen Zeman, who voted in favor of rescinding the firing during a December school board meeting, said the board should have honored their initial deal with Cartwright made in October.

Those 90 days will have ended on Jan. 24, the date of Tuesday's meeting.

Search for new Superintendent

Although Cartwright still has her job, there has been an ongoing search for an interim superintendent. If the board votes to terminate Cartwright, the search for a new superintendent could play out a few ways.

According to reporting from the Sun Sentinel, "the district receivedfive applications from that job posting, and retired district administrator Earlean Smiley also submitted her resume at the request of several board members."

In Alhadeff's motion, the board would hire an interim superintendent in mid-February. Zeman’s proposal gives Cartwright 158 days to leave her post. The board would try to hire a permanent superintendent before she leaves.

The meeting will take place Tuesday at 9:15 a.m. at the Kathleen C. Wright building in Fort Lauderdale.

Gerard Albert III covers Broward County. He is a former WLRN intern who graduated from Florida International University. He can be reached atgalbert@wlrnnews.org
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