Broward schools hire longtime educator as new superintendent

February 9, 2022 GMT

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Broward County’s school board promoted the district’s interim superintendent to the position long term, with the majority praising her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the fallout of her controversial predecessor’s departure after his indictment on a perjury charge.

The board voted 7-2 on Wednesday to hire Vickie Cartwright as Robert Runcie’s replacement, choosing her over Michael Gaal, an Air Force veteran and former school district administrator.

Cartwright taught music and was an administrator in Orange County, Florida, for 20 years before serving as superintendent of a small Wisconsin district from 2018 until mid-2021. Broward is the nation’s fifth-largest district with nearly 270,000 students.

Cartwright had been hired in July as the interim superintendent with the understanding that she would not apply for the permanent job. But some board members were so impressed with her performance, they struck that provision in October.

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In heavily Democratic Broward, Cartwright’s willingness to impose a mask mandate over Gov. Ron DeSantis’ opposition proved popular until the Legislature banned them in November.

The board pushed Runcie out when he was indicted in April after prosecutors accused him of lying to a grand jury investigating events surrounding the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that left 17 dead. They said he lied when asked about his knowledge of the criminal charges leveled against his former technology chief, who has been accused of accepting a bribe from a vendor.

After the shooting, critics accused Runcie’s student disciplinary policies of leading to the shooting, saying they had been too lenient toward the shooter’s many at-school problems. Runcie’s supporters said his policies were no different than most Florida districts’ and had led to the shooter’s eventual expulsion.