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Florida school superintendent arrested on perjury charge

Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie is accused of making false statements to a grand jury investigating public safety funding.
Superintendent of Broward County Public Schools Robert Runcie speaks during a news conference in Fort Lauderdale in 2019.
Superintendent of Broward County Public Schools Robert Runcie speaks during a news conference in Fort Lauderdale in 2019. [ MIAMI HERALD | Miami Herald ]
Published Apr. 21
Updated Apr. 21

FORT LAUDERDALE — Superintendent of Broward County Public Schools Robert Runcie was arrested Wednesday morning on a perjury charge related to his grand jury testimony centered on funding of school safety.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested him on a charge of perjury in an official proceeding, according to Broward Sheriff’s Office online arrest records. A grand jury indicted him on April 15 on one count of perjury, a third-degree felony.

According to the BSO website, Runcie, 59, was released later in the morning on his own recognizance.

FDLE agents also Wednesday arrested the Broward School Board’s general counsel, Barbara Myrick, 72, on a felony charge of unlawful disclosure of statewide grand jury proceedings.

Runcie could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday morning by email or cellphone. The district issued a statement at noon by Rosalind Osgood, chair of the Broward School Board, that did not address Runcie’s arrest, but said operations would continue uninterrupted despite the indictment.

Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie.
Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie. [ Broward County Sheriff's Office ]

“The School Board of Broward County, Florida will provide transparency, accountability and integrity as we continue to focus on delivering the highest quality education experience for our students, teachers and staff. As legal processes continue, Broward County Public Schools will operate as normal under the District’s leadership team.”

It was not immediately clear if Runcie would still lead the district following his indictment and arrest. The School Board held its regular meeting on Tuesday.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office declined to comment Wednesday when asked if the governor planned to remove Runcie from office.

“At this point, this is a matter for law enforcement and the courts,” Cody McCloud, DeSantis’ press secretary, said in a statement. “We have no further comment at this time.”

Broward County Public School Board General Counsel Barbara Myrick.
Broward County Public School Board General Counsel Barbara Myrick. [ Broward County Sheriff's Office ]

According to an April 15 indictment by a grand jury impaneled by the Florida Supreme Court, Runcie made a statement in which “he did not believe to be true” while testifying in a case regarding public safety funding.

Specifically, the grand jury was investigating “whether school officials committed — and continue to commit — fraud and deceit by mismanaging, failing to use, and diverting funds from multi-million dollar bonds specifically solicited for school safety initiatives; and whether school officials violated — and continue to violate — state law by systematically under reporting incidents of criminal activity to the Department of Education.”

The grand jury was also investigating “whether refusal and failure to follow the mandates of school-related safety laws, such as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act, resulted in unnecessary and avoidable risk to students across the state; and whether public entities committed — and continue to commit — fraud and deceit by accepting state funds conditioned on implementation of certain safety measures while knowingly failing to act.”

Runcie was the superintendent at the time of the Feb. 14, 2018, mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman High in Parkland, which resulted in the deaths of 17 students and faculty members.

DeSantis convened the grand jury in February 2019 to investigate school districts’ compliance statewide with school safety laws and issue any relevant indictments. Grand jury meetings are not open to the public and jury members are sworn to secrecy.

In December 2019, the grand jury specifically cited Broward and Miami-Dade public school districts in its second interim report. It charged that they manipulated discipline data in the School Environmental Safety Incident Reporting System, known as SESIR.

Runcie was appointed superintendent in 2011. The Broward County School Board extended his contract in 2013 and again in October 2017, when the board unanimously approved a second extension until June 30, 2023.

Miami Herald staff writer David Neal contributed to this report.