School Boss Robert Runcie: A Divider, Not A Uniter






Here is the question that Broward School Board members should answer before they vote on the fate of Superintendent Robert Runcie next week:

How has the debate over school safety become a toxic row over Runcie’s future? 

Blame Runcie. 

Since the Parkland massacre, Runcie has been a divider, not a uniter. 

Under fire for his response to Parkland, Runcie’s defense has devolved into poking the school system’s suppurating wounds left by the shooting.

With his five School Board supporters cheering him on, Runcie has failed to calm an increasingly nasty split between his supporters and his critics.

Last week’s town hall meeting on school safety was a prime example. 

Held at J. P. Taravella High in northwest Broward, Runcie supporters were encouraged to pack the auditorium.

“Word spread in black churches, across neighborhoods and through social media: Come to a town hall meeting on security issues and make your support known for Robert Runcie. An email from a school district department head went out urging attendance and accusing Runcie’s detractors of using ‘vile language’ not seen ‘since desegregation orders were enforced,'” according to the Sun-Sentinel.

Those emails went to African American churches and other minority leaders.

Suddenly a town hall on school safety metamorphosed into a pep rally for Runcie. 

The pro-Runcie crowd arrived by the bus load. They cheered the superintendent and jeered his opponents. 



The Sun-Sentinel’s Scott Travis snapped this picture of just one bus and tweeted it. 


Is there anybody who believes that a school administrator would encourage pro-Runcie folks to show up at Taravella High without at least the nodding approval of his boss — Runcie?

The meeting went as the pro-Runcie forces planned. It appeared stacked by Runcie’s staff from the start. 

The first two speakers the staff allowed to speak — Marsha Ellison, president of the Broward NAACP and Brian Johnson, vice mayor of West Park who is with the minority builders association. Both supported Runcie in rousing remarks.


Brian Johnson 


Paraphrasing The Bible, Johnson aimed his fiery comments at those calling for Runcie’s dismissal.

“To the people who are pimping the pain of the victims…you seek to use this tragedy to pursue your political or personal vendettas..You know who you are,” Johnson said. 

“I pray God gives you the divine modification process …where your tongues begins to cleave to the roof of your mouths (and)your right hand loses its cunning so you will cease to write or type inflammatory falsehoods…”  

And this related to school safety how? 

Still, the crowd brought in to prop up Runcie went wild.

Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was murdered in the school shooting, complained the meeting had become “racial” and off topic: 



Guttenberg later told the Sun-Sentinel, “I’m frustrated as hell at what has happened in this room tonight to make this about color and socioeconomic status,” he said. “This is about security.”

This defense of Runcie by the black community is having an effect on the quivering, timid Runcie supporters on the School Board  Patricia Good, Laurie Rich Levinson, Ann Murray, Rosalind Osgood and Donna Korn. 

The Gang of Five are politicians above all. They love being School Board members.

And they can count. They are especially good at counting votes.   

Roughly half of all Broward Democrats are black. Browardbeat believes that pro-Runcie School Board members fear political damage if they anger the Runcie supporters.

So Runcie will most likely survive the move next week to fire him. For political reasons. 

Runcie will survive despite the calls from Broward to the governor’s mansion to show him the door. For political reasons.  

Runcie will survive crippled, battered and discredited.  

But will the schools survive Runcie and his divisive leadership?


11 Responses to “School Boss Robert Runcie: A Divider, Not A Uniter”

  1. Teachy says:

    He deserves to go for stirring up The Race Issue. It is not good for the schools and for the rest of Broward.

  2. City activist Robert Walsh says:

    U bring up valid points.However the magic number is five(5) that support him,while four(4) want Me.Runcie gone yesterday.Magic #5 .Do the math – he stays.But hold on this governor wants him out.With this new investigation strarting and if the investigation is anywhere near the last outcome,then it doesn’t. matter if he has the five.Will see.Also with the sheriff trial coming up with the Florida Senate if that termination prevails get the governor will strike at Runcie next.Besides it’s the will of the people.Anyone u talk to who is familiar with the Parkland massacre will and share that sentiment.Meaning get packing Mr.Runcie….

  3. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    Classic Broward despicable tactics. Classic cowardly school board Democrats acting like they usually do

  4. God Bless Broward County says:

    Just a few days can change an individual’s perspective on things. At the town hall, a spirited woman to my right forcefully kicked my purse when I did not applaud for the early comments of a Runcie supporter. The contents of my purse, including a feminine hygiene product were ejected. I was scoffed at while scrambling to retrieve my belongings as a CSPD officer positioned himself at the end of my row to observe. I was frightened by the hostility; and her disdain for me; a complete stranger. I cried and prayed the whole way home, for everyone involved in this painful nightmare, and for the woman who had made the false assumption that I came to this meeting with some other agenda than student safety. I won’t hate her back; nor will I pass judgement on her. After a few days of processing this feeling of despair for our entire community, my interpretation of the truth becomes increasingly clear. At the bottom of all of this is the question of STANDARDS. It really is that simple. The Runcie supporters are satisfied with the present condition of the Broward Schools. His critics, and those with inquiries about safetydo not share this confidence. The truth is that BCPS always has, and always will be, corrupt and chaotic. It’s set up to be so. BCPS has never been safe for students, nor will it ever be. In fact, the new safety manager bluntly told us so. I believe him. The question really comes down to this: Are you willing to put your trust in BCPS TODAY to trust that your child will not be killed at school? This is a question that every parent needs to answer for themselves. There are many other options for education; including BVS,and soon there will be many more. Perhaps no side is wrong; and no side is right. There is no meeting in the middle. One group will feel deeply wounded whether Runcie stays or goes. I am removing all three of my kids from brick and mortar Broward schools where I presently, TODAY, have no confidence that they are safe from an assailant who can walk through the gates, on any day, with a weapon, unchecked. I will do this without anger, and with confident relief, but with a deep sadness for what remains in the wake of this tragedy that has impacted every corner of this county.

  5. A reader says:

    Where to begin?? Politics, the overly played race card, the greed of the downtown elite power brokers, all overshadow the needs of public school students, teachers, staff, and parents.
    There is only one purpose for students to be sent to school everyday: to be educated. That endeavor requires a safe environment, a facility that is not plagued by issues that can cause health problems, and adults who use their professional training to teach and to keep the students’ welfare at the top of their “to do” list.
    Amazingly, the opportunity for education happens in all public
    schools everyday and that opportunity is not restricted to any
    one race or socioeconomic level of student.
    It seems the administrative level, in other words, the Superintendent and the School Board members, are out of touch with reality. The students and the parents.are merely pawns to them.
    The School Board of Broward County needs new leadership.

  6. Runcie’s Promise says:

    Runcie and the Sheriff instituted the “Promise Program” that kept the Parkland shooter out of the criminal justice system. Without “Promise” the shooter would not have been able to purchase the weapon and 17 people would be alive today. This fact is not in dispute. Runcie needs to be fired just like the Sheriff

  7. Count. LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:


  8. Really Buddy ? says:

    While I agree with everything in your piece, I am a bit put off by the fact that you posted, then pulled, the “black-face” post from Sam Fields. I have rarely agreed with anything Mr. Fields writes and wonder why you give him a forum, but if you allowed his post (as misguided as it may have been) and then pulled it without explanation then I think you are guilty of the same kind of cowardice you are accusing the School Board of exhibiting. Runcie’s record is indefensible and those who are defending him are cowards. However, I am thinking that, maybe, you need to look in the mirror on this one.



    The first and most important reason was that I didn’t consider the following before posting it. I let my relationship with Fields color my judgement:

    (1) The piece was unclear. After rereading it, I couldn’t figure out what point he was trying to make. Was he pro-blackface? Anti-blackface? Was he attacking political correctness? The piece was a muddled mess and would have never gotten past me when I was a newspaper editor.

    (2) The piece had nothing at all to do with Broward County, South Florida or even Florida. The website is called Browardbeat. It is not designed to be a recitation of Wikipedia’s entry on “blackface.”

    (3) The piece was sent to me by Fields long after other websites had addressed the issue.

    So I decided upon rereading that I just didn’t like the piece and pulled it.

    Pulling it had nothing to do with cowardice. No one criticized my posting of it, perhaps because so few read it.(I always get the most clicks on Broward and Florida political/government news.) Over the years I have stood up to every kind of pressure as a journalist. That includes being held in contempt for refusing to reveal sources and physically threatened…more than once. By the way, I sign everything and don’t hide behind a phony name like many who comment here.

    It was my mistake posting it in the first place. It really wasn’t up to my standards and Mr. Fields’ usual work. I apologize for that.

  9. Truth is a Defense says:

    safety under Florida Law is the responsibility of the one person ultimately in charge of our safety here in Broward. it is not the sheriff, it is not the school supervisor. the mere fact that deputies responded numerous times to deal with cruz and made no arrests speaks volume of the legal guidance to the sheriff.

  10. Count. LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    Heather Brinkworth’s vote supporting Runcie SHOULD BE REMEMBERED IF SHE EVER RUNS FOR POLITICAL OFFICE.

  11. Truth be Told says:

    If Sheriff Israel was sent packing, so shoukd Runcie.

    It’s not about race, it’s about accountability.