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Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie Testifies To Compliance Issues At Stoneman Douglas Commission

Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission
Caitie Switalski
Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie, right, gave updates to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission Meeting Thursday Aug. 15.

This story was updated at 3:48 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 15.

Confusion and disorganization continue to surround 29 charter schools in Broward County, over what plans they have in place for security beyond this first week of school. 

The statewide Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission announced at its meeting in Sunrise Wednesday that more than two-dozen charter schools may have safe school officers on campus this week. 

However, they do not have proper documentation in to the school district or law enforcement to prove they have plans for the coming weeks.  

Thursday morning, the commission received updates about some of the 29 schools that claim they do have plans for long-term security officers.

"Everything's running around here flying by the seat of its pants," Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said. He chairs the statewide public safety commission.


Read More: MSD Commission: 29 Schools In Broward County Don't Have Long-term Plans For Safe School Officers

Gualtieri said after reviewing some of the schools' claims overnight, several schools only signed contracts for coverage in the last 48 hours before the first day of school. Some contracts are not signed by law enforcement agencies or appropriate city officials. 

"If it's not signed, it's not an agreement. And it's certainly not a solution if it's only for 13 days," he said.

State law that went into effect in March 2018 requires all public schools to have a safe schools officer on campus. That can be a police or law enforcement officer, an armed guardian from the state training program, or even a specifically-trained security officer.

"To me the headlines are, 'It's a little late,'" Commissioner and Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. 

Commissioners called out Broward County's disorganization around securing charter schools, including Ryan Petty, who lost his daughter, Alaina, in the Feb. 14, 2018 school shooting. 

"I haven't seen the will or the sense of urgency in Broward County to learn the lessons of what happened on Feb. 14, and protect our most vulnerable, our students and our teachers," Petty said. 

Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie answered to those concerns in front of the commission. 

"Lacking a long-term, sustainable plan, that is a different question than who is compliant presently," Runcie said. "All we can do is use the tools that are given to us by the state and close them if they're not doing what they're supposed to do."

Broward County has 89 charter schools. Runcie also informed the commission that one Broward charter school, despite a temporary security contract, did not have a safe schools officer on campus for the first day of school Wednesday. 

"We sent one letter informing a charter school that they are not in compliance, and that we will move to revoke their charter," he said.  

Despite demands from some MSD Public Safety commissioners, Runcie refused to publicly name the school, as to not expose vulnerable students.

Later in the day, Judd did call out the school by name — Championship Academy of Distinction in Davie, with 580 students. At the time of the announcement, the commission assured the public that the school did have armed protection on campus.  

"I highly suggest that the people of Broward County consider whether or not these people deserve their paycheck, because they are certainly not doing their job," Judd said. 

Caitie Muñoz, formerly Switalski, leads the WLRN Newsroom as Director of Daily News & Original Live Programming. Previously she reported on news and stories concerning quality of life in Broward County and its municipalities for WLRN News.
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