Lawyer: Broward School Super Robert Runcie Urged Lawsuit Against Two School Board Opponents






Broward School Superintendent Robert Runcie urged that his two fiercest School Board critics be sued over allegations they were bullying an employee, according to a lawyer for the woman who claimed she was being harassed.

The statement came from Shawn Birkin, a lawyer representing Jillian Haring, who contended she was being bullied and harassed by School Board members Robin Bartleman and Nora Rupert and various officials of the school system.

Birkin was commenting during an interview of Haring in the investigation of her allegations.  The investigation cleared Bartleman and Rupert.

The probe was conducted by retired Broward County Judge Robert Zack, who said he was retained by the legal office of the School Board “to look into some allegations of harassment, bullying, and slander by certain employees of the District as well as board members by one Jillian Haring.”

Zack interviewed various witnesses to the alleged incidents and they were transcribed by a court reporter.

At one point during Haring’s interview, Birkin started adding his own extensive comments. He recounted a meeting he had with Runcie and some of his top lieutenants in the school system concerning the Haring allegations.

“I basically said this, we don’t want to sue, we don’t want to do anything other than make this stop. Make this stop, make it go away, you do something, and they basically represented to us – well, Mr. Runcie basically said maybe you should sue because that’s the only way that we can try to resolve this. Maybe that’s the only way you can get protection.” Birkin recalled.

Birkin then told Zack that he went to high school with Haring. The lawyer said that hasn’t “been paid a penny…but once she gives me the go ahead, I have a wonderful lawsuit. I have a wonderful lawsuit.”




Robin Bartleman (top) and Nora Rupert



If it is true that Runcie encouraged a lawsuit by Haring, the superintendent was urging extra expenses for taxpayers. The schools would pay to defend School Board members and others employees accused of the bullying.

More disturbing in any lawsuit, the Superintendent of Schools could be a witness for Haring against the Board that hired him.

It may be coincidence, but Bartleman and Rupert were the two Board members that gave Runcie low grades on his evaluation just a couple of month before his suggestion that they be sued.

A bullying and harassment complaint by Haring in September triggered the controversy.

In an email directly to Runcie and in conversations with others,  Haring alleged that Bartleman and Rupert were among those harassing her. Bartleman and Rupert were singled out because of their questions about her unusual promotion from a high school “behavior specialist” to a supervisor in the school police and then to a member of the Exceptional Student Education staff.

Haring complained about the public School Board discussion surrounding the creation of a job in ESE for her. During the June meeting, Bartleman and Rupert had numerous questions about Haring’s new job.

Runcie told Zack in his statement during the investigation that the questions from the Board members– at a public meeting – were tantamount to interference in his management.

“Board members are not to be involved in operational and personnel matters,” Runcie is quoted by a court reporter.

Runcie appears not to know the law.

Actually, the powers and duties of a School Board in Florida law includes the requirement that they “Designate positions to be filled, prescribe qualifications for those positions, and provide for the appointment, compensation, promotion, suspension, and dismissal of employees…”

Not only does Runcie not understand the law, but he conceded the following during his November 21 questioning by Zack which came five  years after he was hired:

Zack: What are your duties?

Runcie: Yeah, we’re trying to figure that out…”


Robert Runcie

Robert Runcie


Despite Bartleman and Rupert’s questions at the meeting, the new job for Haring was approved by a one vote majority of their colleagues on the School Board.

The job was created for Haring by administrators who report directly to the superintendent. No one else was considered for the position, which was not advertised.

Zack cleared Bartleman and Rupert of any harassment allegations. The judge actually found that Haring was the one at fault.

“A pattern of confrontation and intimidation on the part of Mrs. Haring towards anyone who questioned or disagreed with her,” Zack wrote in his conclusion to the investigation.

As far as a future lawsuit by Haring, we will have to see.


Previous posts on this issue can be found here,  here and here. 

26 Responses to “Lawyer: Broward School Super Robert Runcie Urged Lawsuit Against Two School Board Opponents”

  1. Anonymous says:

    King Runcie can’t take criticism.

  2. Moreofthesamecrap says:

    All the Board members should be concerned that he is having you investigated as well so he can control you.

  3. Moreofthesamecrap says:

    What a hypocrite. Students and staff are being bullied everyday. It’s being reported and the reports are ignored and grievances denied. The Board should request copies of all the complaints and grievances that have been filed. Then you would really see what’s going on in this district.

  4. InTheKnow says:

    Runcie has exposed himself in his statements as protecting Haring at all costs. Again we ask why? Runcies encouragement of a lawsuit against Board membets who were legally upholding their duties is reprehensible. Taxpayer money being used gor prtsonal gain if Haring. Enough is enough! This all now falls squarely on the shoulders of The Board. Runvue and his cabinet must go and go now. Judge Zack not only found that Haring was NOT the victim of harassment or bullying but she in fact bullied and harrassed those who didnt agree with her and Runcies agenda. Now that this investigation by Judge Zack has determined Haring was the perpetrator of such what will be the consequences for her action? Will she now be placed under investigation? Reassigned? A review of Harings statements to Judge Zack show deceit, lies and wrongful acusations which should also be investigated. This District has had enough…and more information regarding Harings abuse of overtime has yet to be publicly exposed. Robert Runcie also failed to be truthful of his account during Zacks intetview of him. BOARD MEMBERS…ITS NOW ON YOU. CLEAN THIS MESS UP.

  5. Seeky Pete says:

    It is time for another Grand Jury to investigate the Broward Schools. The delays in the bond program alone should interest jurors.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Just why did Jillian Haring get “special” promotions outside of the required rules and customs. Runcie breaks every rule in the rule book and then sues the School Board members when they criticize him. What is his real relationship with Abby Freedman?

  7. Oh, It's BROWARD... says:

    Runcie needs to GO. Now. The School system is still a mess. And now he is not only not running it well, he is actually pitting people against each other? Come on, what are you waiting for? Somebody make a Motion to dismiss for cause. His contract probably doesn’t have a golden parachute for being dismissed for cause and goodness know: HE HAS GOT TO GO!

  8. Juliet Hibbs says:

    RIOT They are bullying by doing their jobs (holding him accountable) and will get sued for it and he doesn’t even understand his DUTIES after 5 years and that’s ok?

    RUNCIE and his clique ARE the bullies and this is WHY Broward Schools is losing teachers (for years) faster than they can find brand new teachers to replace them

    NO ONE has rights in Broward Schools if they are not a part of the Runcie CREW! Look at DBHS NEVER an investigation, that was ordered by the board. No one cared about the assaults, rapes and abuse and that was JUNE 2012. The man has been ALLOWED (this is to the parents, staff and tax payers) to do as he pleases for years. NO ONE cared or did little. A few of us fought like hell…NOW, I hope that IF this lawsuit does happen, that I am called as a witness for Rupert and Bartleman! I have YEARS of evidence INCLUDING the police report I filed against MRS RUNCIE for STALKING ME ONLINE. That was when it stopped. I had to WASTE the time of POLICE to stop these bullies the board was emailed I PROVED I was blocked from PUBLIC documents. They need a witness for THEM, and I am THERE. I can even used the video of LIES by David Golt years ago. Not to mention the COUNTLESS other cases that have played out in video, over the last 5 years

    NO ONE CARED! OR very few would ever show up! This problem is due to ANY lack of action by WE THE PEOPLE for all of these years!

  9. The End is Near says:

    Running a system this large is the equivalent of wresting an octopus. Once you get a couple tentacles under control another one pops up. Mr Runcie has been unable to empower the right people in the district to help him wrestle the octopus. He has instead been loyal to the inept. He is now backed into a corner where he is trying to delfect blame from his failed judgement and leadership on to a handful of board members. He claims district staff sabotages him but after five years they are not just district staff but HIS staff.

    I had very high hopes for him when he arrived. It is time for him to move on to his next opportunity and take his friends with him.

  10. Sadtimes says:

    I would like to know who that works for the district is soo tired of all these controversial stories? They keep happening over and over! Why do we continue to keep a superintendent that has created 3/4 of them? SMH!

  11. Sadtimes says:

    And one more thought..I really don’t understand why some sort of explanation to the teachers and staff of the district has not come out yet exposing the truth of why she (JH) continues to get special treatment?? I don’t even know her but it has been so controversial that many of us wonder where the special treatment comes from. Runcie has to be close to if not the worse superintendent that Broward has ever had. I think the Board IS finally seeing the truth, however not Friedman or Osgood that continue to think he has done so well. Has anyone ever really looked into what the programs that he praises are really like? Go over to the PROMISE program and see for yourself what a joke it is. Also, Dan G. must have blinders on too. Even Valerie Wanza sticks up for the directors, if she only knew what goes on and the power trip they are on when they go to the schools. We are all supposed to be working together not bringing others down. When is all this going to stop??

  12. Puss&Boots says:

    Haring falsey stated she was unaware of a prepared memo that she ordered be prepared. This is a documented fact. She also misrepresented to the judge for districts hearing process…her lack of qualifications and experience in this area is glowing. Either Runcie is taking and believing everything Haring tells him or he is being blackmailed by her….or he just an idiot. Many feel she has dirt on him that was located onthe laptop she refused to surrender when she leaving Cypress Bay HS..Runcie stepped in on her behalf and ordred she be allowed to depart with the device
    And now we are learning the SIU server is down and documents are being purged…With the exception of Ruppert and Bartleman how can the remaining Board members allow this district to be operated in such a manner?
    Buddy it sppears you have the transcripts..please keep exposing the leadership for the thugs and liars that they truly are. Jeff M. Speak up..your reputation is as stake. Do you think any county or district will hire you as a Supt.after all of this?

  13. Anonymous says:

    The way to get Runcie is turn the table on him and sue him for misuse of power and abusing state law in court. Sue him for breaking the sunshine law by transmitting votes from member to member before meetings. Sue him for breaking his promise on the bonds. Sue him.

  14. Upset and Fed Up says:

    I ask Abby Freedman, Donna Korn, Anne Murray, Patricia Good, Rosalind Osgood and Laurie Levenson what student achievement gains have their been and why do they excuse schools standing still or falling behind?

  15. Julio says:

    A real ESE teacher could have been hired instead of Haring. Money would have been left over for supplies that we now lack. This has been a shame.

  16. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    I would assume only the 2 Board members concerned have “standing” to sue. Why dont they?

  17. Anthony Williams says:

    I told Runcie Jillian was going to be his downfall. He got all defensive. He swore wasnt doing anything with her….I know he lied. Izzy knows the deal….thats why hes getting a deal at tomorrows Board meeting. Jillian going to sue Runcie next for child support. Bob how could you?

    Buddy….keep looking through those transcripts and report it all. JH is a lying cheating creep who’s time has come. Karma Jillian…its a bitch!

  18. michael sirbola says:

    Dear School board, It isn’t so much in what he does (keep things afloat and any resistors quieted during the “transition” from public to private, as in what he doesn’t do – which is MUCH harder to show, but I’ll try… here;

    Dear Supt. Runcie (Broward county, FL),

    Mr. Runcie you are just one of HUNDREDS of faux superintendents trained at the “Broad Academy for Superintendents” to speed the transition from public to private education in America. Jump ship, please, change your stripes Mr. Runcie; TURN DOWN the next bogus award the Broad Foundation wants to foist on you, speak out when needed, as in this wonderful example in the Medford NY school district. Please?

    This is what real, genuinely progressive districts that aren’t part of the BROAD FOUNDATION hegemony do – they do their job – they speak out against injustice and fight for kids instead of corporations interests, this is what it looks like when that happens. Sigh.

    Can it happen here in Broward do you think? Clearly not as long as the head of the district is clueless as to his part in the corporatocracy machine – literally clueless. There is a school board meeting today, any chance of our hearing anything like this resolution today do you think? Come on, stop laughing, that was a serious question, sigh! 🙁

  19. dad to three says:

    Lest we forget who we are talking about, from only 5 years ago:

    The evidence we have been presented concerning the malfeasance, misfeasance and
    nonfeasance of the Broward County School Board (Board) and of the senior management of the Broward County School District, (District) and of the gross mismanagement and apparent ineptitude of so many individuals at so many levels is so overwhelming that we cannot imagine any level of incompetence that would explain what we have seen. Therefore we are reluctantly compelled to conclude that at least some of this behavior can best be explained by corruption of our officials by contractors, vendors and their lobbyists. Moreover, many of the problems we identified in our inquiry are longstanding and have been pointed out by at least two previous Grand Juries. But for the Constitutional mandate that requires an elected School Board for each District, our first and foremost recommendation would have been to abolish the Broward County School Board altogether.

    So who’s surprised??

  20. Sadtimes says:

    So has anyone inquired or asked what will happen to Jillian H? Shouldn’t she be given some sort of consequence for all the wasted time and money she has accrued? Enough is Enough!

  21. michael sirbola says:

    REGARDING THE IMPORTANCE OF PUBLIC INFORMATION REQUESTS AND EMAIL TRAILS: TIME TO CLEAN HOUSE AND KICK THE BUMS OUT! Chicago’s Rahm and Runcie (former Chicagoan relocated to be school super Broward, FL); Two pigs in a poke it seems! Mr. Runcie’s cozy relationship with the editors and owners at Sun Sentinel and Western Gazette are why the checks and balances that SHOULD be working in a PUBLIC school system run by the PUBLIC has NOT worked here in Broward – the Public does not have real news or real information and is kept in the dark by BROAD FOUNDATION powerbrokers for State and Corporate interest over the interests of the public and of our kids. It is shameful and corrupt to operate a district and a faux news service so blatantly as if it were one’s own private fiefdom – KICK THE BUMS OUT! Runcie is a former Chicagoan relocated to be school super in Broward, FL. Check this out; Chicago’s Rahm and Runcie are apparently twins in more ways than just sharing a Chicago heritage of bigotry against “lesser-folk”; Two pigs in a poke it seems indeed!…

  22. TheHitList says:


    As far as JH being held accountable for her actions….like Plant sang…Jillian….Your Time is Gonna Come.

  23. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    While MrRuncie was a bad choice for Super the Mayor of Chicago has done a great job there.

  24. Sandy LaRocca says:

    And why are Broward County taxpayers still funding Israel Canales’s $86,000 a year salary for over a year now when he has not been doing his job as “Building Manager” aka Runcie’s chauffer and bodyguard??? His termination was recommended by the Professional Standards Committee for official misconduct after a very thorough investigation, then agreed upon by Runcie. The termination was on the Board Agenda before the break, and was pulled at the last minute as his attorney submitted a letter supposedly saying he will resign in the fall of 2017…??? Why does Canales decide when HE is going to resign. He had that option before the termination proceedings began and refused it. This nonsense must stop and if the Board doesn’t push this through and terminate him, we need a new Board. That salary could be used for the students of Broward County, not for Canales to be sitting at a “discreet” location being unproductive.

  25. Linda Blair says:

    Sandy, Why don’t you get a life!! Your life must be realing boring!!! I’m sure you are so perfect!! Don’t throw stones at glass houses!!

  26. ya.think says:

    Far more people have done far more worse thing than Israel, and nothing happen to them….Discipline is not fair or equitable in the school district, fix that first.