Officials from Broward County Public Schools met in Fort Lauderdale Monday afternoon to formally introduce the new principal who is expected to take over leadership at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
Michelle Kefford, recently named Florida's 2019 Principal of the Year, has been recommended to take on the role.
Kefford started her education career as a biology teacher at MSD nearly 20 years ago. She said she is still forming her plan for the school.
"My vision is just to continue the great path that Stoneman Douglas is on," Kefford said. "I have not yet had an opportunity to meet with all of the community and all of the stakeholders within the school, but in the coming weeks and months I will certainly do so. And I will utilize the information I collect to determine the trajectory moving forward."
Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said the decision to nominate Kefford was "an easy one."
"It just so happens that she has some fairly significant ties to the Stoneman Douglas community in Parkland, so all of the dots connected on this one...the timing and everything worked out," Runcie said.
Kefford is a Parkland resident. Her son is currently a freshman at Stoneman Douglas.
"He was at Westglades Middle School during the incident when he was an eighth grader," Kefford said of last year's shooting. "We were impacted as a family because he was in a portable classroom outside and saw a lot of the students who evacuated the campus during the incident.
School board member Lori Alhadeff was at the announcement. She lost her daughter Alyssa Alhadeff in the shooting. She said she's happy to see the change in leadership.
Of current co-principal Ty Thompson, Alhadeff said: "He was not involved with threat assessments that led up to the shooting on February 14th and there was no accountability. I think Ms. Kefford will be a huge asset to the school and it will bring our community together and help us with the healing process."
Thompson, who was the only principal at Stoneman Douglas when the shooting happened, announced he would be leaving the school last Friday, citing that he can't continue at his current pace.
When Kefford was asked about how she would change security at the high school, Runcie stepped in.
"There have been a lot of security measures put into Stoneman Douglas and across the entire district," he said. "So it would make sense for Ms. Kefford to go to the school and see what security measures are in place now, and from this point forward assess how those security measures are being implemented….before making any kind of preliminary judgements."
He noted that a few final schools that need to transition to a single point of entry will do so over the summer.
Kefford will be taking over for the co-principal system currently at Stoneman Douglas, pending approval from the school board at a June meeting.
"I refer to my staff as a family, that's how I operate," Kefford said. "Relationships are of the utmost importance...I will bring those things and continue those things."