Witch Hunt Against Broward Principal Fails


Imagine working for 35 years as a teacher, assistant principal and principal.

Then right before you retire, you are called in front of the school cops. You are told you are being investigated.

You are ordered not to talk about the investigation. The cops refuse to tell you what you are being investigated for.

It was the start of a 22 month-long nightmare for Rebecca Dahl, former principal at Sunrise Middle School, that ended just weeks ago.  

North Korea? East Germany? Cuba?

No, this Kafkaesque scene was the work of the Broward County Schools Special Investigative Unit the school cops.

Shortly after Dahl’s meeting with the school cops, an anonymous letter was sent to the School Board and various officials of the system. It contained scurrilous unproven charges, but also contained details of the Dahl investigation that only an insider to the probe would know.

So others were talking about the investigation, but Dahl was forbidden to open her mouth.

Eventually the principal found out that she was charged with falsifying school records. The charges came from her superior, area superintendant, Verda Farrow, Dahl believes.

The SIU and her supervisor “literally started a witch hunt on me, Dahl says.

Like figures in the novels of Kafka, the petty SIU bureaucrats tormented Dahl.

SIU scheduled a hearing on the day of Dahl’s retirement party and others when Dahl was leaving town to be at the bedside of her dying brother.

The word was passed that teachers should not to attend Dahl’s retirement party, lest they be tainted. Her colleagues were warned not to talk to her.

The school cops were out to ruin her reputation and get her pension taken away.

Dahl fought back. She went to an attorney with a history of fighting the system.

The cops continued their persecution of Dahl.

Even after she retired, SIU continued their investigation until a judge told them they no longer had jurisdiction over her. The School Board, not content with the ruling, spent money to appeal before conceding defeat.

But not to be deterred, the school cops sent the case to the Department of Education in Tallahassee. The DOE threw the case out and found there was no probably cause for an investigation at all.

The cost to taxpayers in wasted legal fees to school board attorneys and staff came at a time when budget cuts were being made.

Dahl got her life back after 22 months. She is still angry.

“I will never be the same, she said. “My reputation will never be the same.”

At least Dahl cleared her name. But, how many others have been railroaded by the school cops?

The SIU needs changing. The ones responsible for the persecution of Rebecca Dahl need to be held accountable.

If not, Dahl should sue them.personally. Are you listening School Board?


Sun-Sentinel Education Writer Kathy Bushhouse’s take on Rebecca Dahl is here.

23 Responses to “Witch Hunt Against Broward Principal Fails”

  1. Wally says:

    How come the school board has their own police department anyway? When my daughter was pushed and her purse stolen at school I was told not to report it to BSO and that they had no jurisdiction in the schools. I never heard another word from the school system police and can’t even reach them on the phone. We should turn over everything to BSO or the city police.

  2. Blue Man Scoop says:

    @ wally: The irony/outrage is that the school board makes the city foot the bill for a School Resource Officer.

  3. Frank Niles says:

    There are two million stories in the naked county, this has been one of them.

    ps Is Rebecca Dahl related to Roald Dahl ? If she said “literally started a witch hunt on me” does that mean that Rebecca admits to being a witch ?

  4. Patricia Halliday says:

    Thank you so much for finally putting in print what parents have been wanting to know for the last 2
    What was been done to Rebecca Dahl
    is despicable.
    Everyone complains that there is a lack of responsibility and accountability for actions – well, those individuals reporting false charges should be taken to task.
    SIU has made some changes but not enough.
    The fact that the Board spent and continues to spend tax-payers $ on cases like this is unconscionable.

  5. School Employee says:

    There are many cases like Ms. Dahl because it is well known that the SIU are bullies and the administration’s goon squad. When they want to get rid of somebody they put the SIU on them. Just ask around, Buddy.

  6. alice says:

    The school has been rocky ever since this. Whatever happened to the Sexual Harrassment charges on the next principal? The discipline (or lack of it) is out of control. Someone shot a rubber band with a staple in it across a classroom and it landed in a kids eye. A teacher just quit. Another teacher got locked in a classroom, one had his tires slashed. There is a bullying problem,some kids not only bully the other kids, but their teachers!

    And there are plenty of lousy administrators around the county to go after. It seems if you are white they go after you, black you are safe.so sad.

  7. Floridan says:

    I think this case is a little more complex than you make out. If a public body receives information of purported wrongdoing by one of its employees, how is it supposed to respond? Perhaps some aspects of the investigation were ill-advised, but the School Board could not just ignore the allegations.

    Moreover, beyond Ms. Dahl’s belief, what proof do you have of Verda Farrow’s role in this?

  8. Terrible But says:

    The Broward County School district has a clear reputation for persecuting anyone that dares to not tow the line just as they want it done, no matter what good reason someone might have. We saw it with the inspector and the mold. We see it all the time.

    It is a big part of the culture of corruption in our school system. That culture blankets the entire system like thick paint. It’s in every nook and cranny to the point that it is hard to see anyplace where it does not apply. We ignore the inconvenient truth that the only way to fix it is by distroying that school board altogether, and rebuilding it with new people in charge from scratch.

    Want proof?

    Go find out what became of Verda Farrow. She was likely given a sterling evaluation, a raise and or a promotion, in great recognition for her stellar and loyal performance. That shows you how evil and rotten that place is.

  9. Open Your Eyes says:

    Notter and the Board kept Joe Melita in charge of the SIU even after they had hard written evidence that he altered documents, ignored evidence, directed “investigations” and threatened to destroy the livelyhoods of those who opposed him. According to the newspapers, his department concealed sexual child abuse from parents. They also gave Mr. Marko a new contract after being fully informed, in his own writing, that he personally lied to the board to conceal civil rights and child abuse.

  10. Open Your Eyes says:

    Notter and the Board kept Joe Melita in charge of the SIU even after they had hard written evidence that he altered documents, ignored evidence, framed people, directed and falsified “investigations”, and threatened to destroy the livelihoods of those who opposed him. According to the newspapers, his department concealed sexual child abuse from parents. They also gave Mr. Marko a new contract after being fully informed, in his own writing, that he personally lied to the board to conceal civil rights and child abuse,and to protect Beverly Gallagher. Again, according to newspapers, he also withheld information on land deals which will end up costing taxpayers millions of dollars.
    The Board wants and needs corrupt and despicable people like these to keep the culture of abuse against parents, teachers, and students in place. Fear protects them. They feel that the “good all boy” system needs to be preserved at all costs. There is not one single Board member who is not corrupt. They all knew about Beverly, they all knew about Kraft, and they all know when to stay silent or lie. Vote them all out of office.
    PS: Does anyone question why there were 8,000 pages of documents covering one deal for what the auditor says was about $250,000 worth of work? How much of this was unnecessary legal work paid for with our taxes? Who keeps track of the billing hours? It would cost $1,200.00 just to get copies of these documents if anyone wanted to review them. Marko has not been audited, maybe ever. We need a full audit and investigation of what has been going on with this unethical legal counsel and his payouts.

  11. To Open Your Eyes says:

    You are so right about Melita. Melita headed the SIU and was never a police officer. He was a failed principal who got appointed because Frank Till liked him and his record of failures as SIU head are well known. I hope Dahl sues him, too.

  12. want to know says:

    Why did Joe Melita ignore teachers at a local high school that had their email broken into, then the principal and his boys ran off a personal email and put it in every employee’s box to embarrass a teacher? Why did he ignore complaints that there were unauthorized people entering the room (late at night when no one was around) where the FCAT answer sheets were kept? The reading dept head in a room late at night with bubbled answer sheets….sounds VERY fishy!

  13. James Nelson says:

    I heard the Department of Eduction dismissed that case too against that Principal as the charges were totally bogus and SIU is still violating that Principal’s rights = Buddy u should look into that too

    FROM BUDDY: E-mail me at Browardbeat@hotmail.com and give me more details…..

  14. Garfish says:

    I don’t know exactly when Melita became the head of SIU, but I thought it was before Till came around.

    I understand the reason why an SIU exists, I don’t understand why they carry sidearms. When they remove a school board employee from a job site they want to intimidate the accused. All people being placed under this scrutiny are served with a letter notifying them they must leave the property immediately, and report to SIU headquarters. They must turn in any school board issued items such as laptop computers, pda’s, and their workplace keys. When they meet with SIU, they are instructed not to discuss their case with anyone.

    People who have been around for awhile know that Melita got a student pregnant, I guess if he was black, like Joe Eggelletion, he could have become a politician. Both Eggelletion and Melita worked at Cooper City High School as teachers at the same time Ray De La Feuillez (sp?) and Ben Arculeo were administrators. Just some fun facts.

  15. info info says:

    Wow Eggelletion a teacher? That is news. I do not think the rumor about a student pregnant is true-he may cheated on his wife ,but with teachers, in fact he is married now to one. He would be around if that were true .

    FROM BUDDY: Josephus Eggelletion slept with his students while a teacher. He personally admitted this to me for a story I wrote while at the Sun-Sentinel. I also had several interviews with the student, who is now a grown woman.
    There was allegedly an “investigation” by the school system after this information became public, much of it written by Elgin Jones of The South Florida Times. Nothing happened to Eggelletion. School authorities said too much time had passed since the incidents.

  16. nottinamazesme says:

    I can’t agree more with what everyone has posted here, as truer words have never been said. I’m very happy for Ms. Dahl, but I want you to think of how many other employees are out there with tainted reputations for absolutely no reason whatsoever. I still daydream about the day all teachers in this county will get together and one morning announce: the hell with this…we quit!, then take jobs in other counties. The school board would completely burst at the seams, and the public in general might even learn to respect and admire teachers, people who, in general, are good folk, but taken for granted, critized and abused by many kids, parents, and certainly “administrators”..and I use that term lightly. This county STINKS!!!! It’s simply a cesspool no matter where you turn. Buckets of manure galore. It seems incomprehensible, yet at the same time totally believable because we’re dealing with Broward County, and absolutely nothing from Broward amazes me at all! I’ve witnessed so many deep levels of corruption here. I hope Ms. Dahl sues the board for every lousy penny they’ve got. She also needs to sue some people individually, beginning with Melita et al.
    Each and every day I pity the poor teachers who work for Broward public schools. They are true heroes.

  17. kwitcherbelyaken says:

    Joe Melita

    Michael Garretson

    Just another example of the School Board not finishing the job and getting rid of Frank Till’s corrupt department heads.

  18. RIP says:

    Something tells me that this incident with Ms. Dahl is the beginning of the end for James Notter. He allowed this to go on for years without doing anything and he was a supporter of Joe Melita from the beginning.

  19. want to know says:

    James-the school I am talking about-there never was a case investigated.. Teachers complained, it was a rock solid case and Notter,Melita ignored it because the principal is related to a Board member and other big wigs/former big wigs. They should go to the state,maybe get better results.

  20. Mr. Jay says:

    Amazing how Melita just upped and retired. Why doesn’t the SIU department go after the double dipping of board employees and BTUseless.

    The whole systems is corrupt and has to be done away with!!

  21. Garfish says:

    Eggelletion started out as a social studies teacher at Cooper City High School. I had him for a class at some point. He transferred to Dillard HS, apparently to boost his standing as a Black Educator, and enhance his political aspirations.

    He has been through two paternity lawsuits, and at least one of the lawsuits, the plaintiff alleged that she was a 16 year old student at Dillard.

    Back then Josephus was a skinny, Huggy Bear type character with a Shaft-afro and a Groucho Marx mustache. As with many charismatic individuals, some people fell under his charm, and some were indifferent or hostile towards it.

    I was in the indifferent group.

  22. Jeanne says:

    Everyone one has forgotten that another principal was removed from Sunrise Middle school, false allegation were made and because he doesn’t have the political connections Ms. Dall had, he is left twisting in the wind.

    Why is he any less deserving of our advocacy than Mrs. Dall?

  23. Granny says:

    Contact Steve Rossi. He is the attorney the teacher’s union hires to represent accused teachers, many who are falsely accused. But the system, as Ms. Dahl described, gives NO opportunity for a teacher to state their side of the case before making judgment. Fortunately, at the state level, someone with a brain reads all the evidence and makes decisions that are fair and just. The Broward system is grossly flawed and the witch hunts continue with no restrictions. My DROP is almost over and I retire soon with a bitter taste in my mouth and no respect for the system I served loyally for 35 years. As my former students complete their degrees, I can only advise them to not go into teaching, especially in Broward County.