Broward District Leaders To 'Listen To As Many People As Possible' At School Safety Forum

Apr 17, 2018

Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said a school safety forum planned for Wednesday night will be the first of many.

The district has faced criticism from parents and students recently over its handling of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Critics have raised questions about the district’s policies for securing school buildings as well as disciplining students and addressing their mental health needs, after troubled former student Nikolas Cruz confessed to killing 17 people at the school.

Runcie told WLRN he wants members of the community to bring their ideas to the forum, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Plantation High School, 6901 NW 16th St.

“We want to have more time listening — not necessarily having a lot of back and forth,” Runcie said during a recent interview in his office. “We’ll provide clarifying information to the extent that we need to. But we’re going to try to get through and listen to as many people as possible.”

Runcie said he and other district leaders will make brief presentations on the topics of school safety, mental health and discipline. They’ll also go over some of the steps they’ve taken to secure the Stoneman Douglas campus since the shooting. The rest of the time will be for people to speak.

“What is it not? It is not a open forum on topics like gun control,” he said. “We're looking, again, at … how we move beyond and become a better school district.”

Runcie said the district is planning a series of  forums following the completion of an independent security risk assessment report, the first phase of which is expected to be done on Aug. 1.

“We intend to have a number of community forums and conversations around that report to get to a common, agreed-upon understanding of what our standards are going to be for safety measures across our schools,” he said.

Schools in the district, including Stoneman Douglas, have received threats on social media since the shooting. Runcie said he’s taking them seriously and some of the perpetrators have been arrested.

“I will say that, in terms of safety, it's hard to convince everyone or console everyone involved in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas situation. But that school, on a daily basis, receives an enormous amount of security,” he said. “Some say it’s too much.”