The superintendent of the Florida school district where 17 students and staff were killed during a 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has been arrested for allegedly lying to a grand jury investigating events surrounding the massacre.
What are the details?
Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie, 51, was detained by agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Wednesday morning, according to a news release issued by the department. The school board’s general counsel, Barbara Myrick, 72, was also arrested.
Law enforcement reported that Runcie was charged with perjury in an official proceeding, a third-degree felony, while Myrick was arrested on a charge of unlawful disclosure of statewide grand jury proceedings, which is also a third-degree felony. Both charges are punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
Since grand jury documents are sealed, details are sparse on what exactly Runcie and Myrick are accused of lying about. Though the FDLE news release stated the grand jury investigation primarily has to do with “possible failures in following school-related safety laws and mismanaging funds solicited for school safety initiatives.”
According to the Associated Press, Runcie’s indictment states that the grand jury, which was empaneled two years ago, is also investigating whether:
— Public agencies are using state safety grants for other purposes.
— Broward school officials misappropriated millions of dollars from a bond measure aimed at improving campus safety. It was approved by county voters almost four years before the shooting.
— Officials intentionally underreported on-campus crimes committed by students. Since the shooting, Runcie and district administrators have been accused by critics of lying about school crime rates and discipline problems.
The Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that while the grand jury’s primary focus initially was to review school safety in the aftermath of the Parkland massacre, the scope of the probe has since expanded to include corruption and mismanagement in district operations.
The local outlet also reported, “Runcie has been superintendent since 2011 and makes $356,000 a year. Myrick has been general counsel since 2016 and a district employee since 2002. She makes $220,000.”
In response to news of the arrests, School Board Chairwoman Rosalind Osgood issued a statement Wednesday saying the district would “operate as normal under the District’s leadership team.”
She added that the board would “provide transparency, accountability and integrity as we continue to focus on delivering the highest quality educational experience for our students, teachers and staff.”
Tony Montalto, president of a group that represents the families of Parkland shooting victims, said Wednesday he is “thankful” to Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis for ordering the grand jury investigation, the AP reported.
“It is important that we get the facts about what happened and then hold those responsible accountable and implement positive change,” said Montalto, who lost his 14-year-old daughter Gina in the shooting.