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Broward Schools Superintendent To Step Down, And The Factors Driving Vaccine Disparities In South Florida

Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie stands in an office next to a Florida state flag
Tom Hudson
/
WLRN News
Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie is exiting his position as he faces felony perjury charges.

A South Florida school district will soon be looking for a new leader.

Robert Runcie said he would leave his job as superintendent of Broward County Public Schools at an emotional school board meeting.

His offer to resign came less than a week after he was indicted on a federal perjury charge, but that’s not why he offered to step down.

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During that Tuesday meeting, Runcie said he would step down from his post if it would give peace to parents like school board member Lori Alhadeff, whose 14-year-old daughter was killed in the 2018 Parkland school shooting.

Broward County School Board Chairwoman Rosalind Osgood said she supports Runcie’s departure.

“I think that it would allow the district in the community to move forward with a focus on improving schools and academic achievement,” Osgood said.

Osgood said the board looks forward to the search for the district’s new superintendent.

“I want the best qualified person for the job," she said. “I want the person that's going to be the best qualified, that's going to fit in with the community and do the best job.”

Vaccine Disparity

Nearly 3 million people in South Florida have gotten at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine so far. Two out of three of those people are white. Only one of every dozen are Black.

The Miami Herald analyzed vaccination rates by zip codes in Miami-Dade County. Their reporters found vaccination rates in majority-Black areas were nearly 40% lower than the county as a whole, as of mid-April, despite outreach efforts and distribution points in those neighborhoods.

Ana Claudia Chacin and Nicholas Nehamas were part of the Miami Herald team that looked at the vaccine disparities in Miami-Dade.

Chacin said the Herald’s reporting showed the disparities are more closely tied to socioeconomic factors rather than racial divides.

“What we heard from experts is, that because a lot of vaccine sites require people to make appointments through a website, you need internet access,” Chacin said. “But you also need time to go and get vaccinated.That means you might have to require time off from work, which you might not be able to get if you work on an hourly wage.”

Nehamas said national polling showed high rates of vaccine hesitancy in the Black community back in November, but the gap has narrowed significantly since then due outreach and vaccine education campaigns.

“At this point vaccine hesitancy I don’t think is the issue here, I think it’s structural barriers as they relate to poverty,” Nehamas said.

Andrea Perdomo is a producer for WLRN News.