Florida School Board chair seeks to suspend Broward superintendent

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The chairman of the Florida Board of Education turns his attention to Vicki Cartwright.and state board On Thursday, it was Chairman Tom Grady who suggested that Superintendent Broward should be suspended.

BCPS has since released a statewide grand jury investigation that found evidence of fraud and mismanagement related to the school district’s SMART bond, an $800 million project to renovate schools and improve safety. It has undergone rigorous scrutiny.

Grand jury report already Expulsion of four members of the Broward Board of Education and three district managers. Cartwright joined the district several months after the grand jury completed its duties in April 2021.

At Thursday’s meeting, Grady asked whether the state board could remove the superintendent, referring to Cartwright.

“I wonder if this board has the power to suspend a school district’s superintendent or to suggest that the school district take such action.”

As noted by Florida Department of Education Senior Chancellor Jacob Oliva, state commissions have no such authority.under florida lawthe governor can remove locally elected officials for a variety of reasons, including misconduct, incompetence, and dereliction of duty.

“I wonder if this board has the authority to suspend a school district’s superintendent or to propose to the school district to take such action.” – Tom, Florida Board of Education Chairman Grady

However, in Broward, superintendents are appointed by the local school board rather than being elected by voters.

“In Broward County, they are employed by the school board at the local level,” Oliva said. “Thus, we expect all hiring and firing or personnel-related actions to be done locally by the district’s elected officials.”

“Hopefully that process goes well,” Grady replied.

During the interrogation, Grady noted that state boards had questioned Cartwright in the past after the Broward School Board voted. delegation mask At the beginning of the 2021 school year.

“I wish this committee could do something,” Grady said. “Maybe in the future we can.”

In a written statement to WLRN, school district spokesperson John Sullivan said Cartwright remained committed to school safety and that she was simply doing her job of enforcing the school board’s mask policy. He said he was just doing it.

“Superintendent Cartwright has worked with FLDOE and will continue to do so. [the Florida Department of Education] This is to ensure the safety of our school,” read part of the statement.

“Since arriving at the school district in August 2021, nearly five months after the grand jury’s conclusion, Superintendent Cartwright’s priorities have focused on providing a safe learning environment for students and staff. ‘ said the statement. “With that purpose in mind, she has significantly improved the district’s organizational structure, safety and security, and management of the SMART Bond program over the past year, and continues to do so.”

In Broward, the school board has the power to hire and fire superintendents.

Cartwright is still in a relatively new job. She was named the school district’s permanent superintendent in February after serving on an interim basis beginning her August 2021.

The board of education hired her to take over from the previous office. Superintendent Robert Lancie Resignsa few days after he was arrested for perjury It relates to a grand jury investigation initiated in the wake of the 2018 Parkland shooting.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, chairman of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Board of Public Safety, praised Kurtwight and said that under her leadership, the district could be a model for school safety.

drawn by cartwright National media attention to run Broward School Board Decision Implementing mask mandates in August 2021, ignoring an executive order from Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“We’ve been through some very turbulent times as a school district over the last two years. I think what we really need now is stability. To believe we still need to fire her.” —Broward School Board Member Sarah Leonardi

under the cartwright employment agreementthe Board of Education may dismiss the Superintendent at any time […] With or without reason by majority vote [the school board’s] membership”.

rear DeSantis Removed four members of the Broward Board of Education from office, Board majority It is now made up of members he appointed — four of whom will be completing their terms until at least November.

The nominees have already proved their strength as a voting bloc by electing Torey Alston as the new chair. Alston resigned his seat on the Broward County Commission and appointed DeSantis to the school board.

Alston did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

Carline Jean / South Florida Sun Sentinel

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Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Vicki Cartwright (right) presents a statewide grand jury report at the Board of Education Administration Building in Fort Lauderdale, Tuesday, September 13, 2022.

Director Sarah Leonardi said she was “clearly against” the proposal that Cartwright should be suspended.

“I think it’s going to be very expensive for the school district. Second, I think it’s misleading our district,” Leonardi said.

“We’ve been through some very turbulent times as a school district over the past two years, and I think what we really need right now is stability,” she added. “And she’s not giving us any reason to question her leadership in a way that leads me to believe we should fire her.”

State officials scrutinize school districts named in grand jury report

FDOE staff pressuring Cartwright and superintendents of Duval, Miami-Dade, Orange, and Palm Beach counties named in grand jury report for underreporting crime and other school safety-related issues I have been calling

In a letter dated Sept. 7, Tim Hay, director of the state’s office of safe schools, directed Cartwright to sever ties with school district officials named in the investigation.

“As you are aware, on August 26, 2022, Governor DeSantis took swift and immediate action to remove the four incumbents identified in the grand jury report. The division of the Department of Justice has been working with urgency on issues identified by a grand jury that merit further investigation, and will continue to do so,” reads part of Haye’s letter.

“Now, as the Broward County Superintendent, it is your duty to take real, decisive action that demonstrates Broward’s commitment to making schools safer for our students and staff.”

“The actions I have taken and will continue to take are based on the principle of ensuring the safest learning environment for our students and staff. […] Today was my superintendent’s first day in moving this school district forward, so I’m just committed.

On September 13th, the Broward School Board accepted the resignation and retirement of three administrators. Ronald Morgan, Assistant Chief Building Official Inspection. and David Watkins, Director of Diversity and School Environments.

At the same board meeting, Cartwright said: presentation Detailing her efforts to address the concerns outlined in the investigation, she said she had taken “quick action” Since the report was published on August 19th.

“The actions I have taken and will continue to take are guided by the principle of ensuring the safest learning environment for our students and staff,” said Cartwright. “I am just so committed today as it was my first day in coaching to move this district forward.”

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