Amid pressure for firings, Broward superintendent to ‘provide an update’ next week

Broward County Public Schools administrators and staff knew on Thursday that Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is seeking reelection, and his Florida Department of Education weren’t done with his shakeup.

Tim Hay, the executive director of the department’s Office of Safe Schools, asked Vickie L. Cartwright, the Broward superintendent since February, to “take real and decisive action” since there were still “remaining district officials” who haven’t “taken ownership of their barefaced failures.”

Hay identified the officials as “key members” of former Superintendent Robert Runcie’s leadership team; staff “directly named” in the state grand jury report and procurement staff associated with the district’s SMART program, which has more than 100 projects under active construction.

Cartwright’s office released a statement on Thursday in response to Hay’s letter: “The district welcomed the FLDOE visit and looks forward to our continued partnership to ensure the safety of our students and staff. As soon as next week’s board meeting, the superintendent will provide an update to the board and community,”

DeSantis appointed Kevin Tynan, the Broward County School Board member on countywide at-large seat 8, to replace Donna Pilger Korn, who he suspended and is on the ballot in the Nov. 8 general election after a state grand jury report was released.

“It’s up to our superintendent to evaluate everything that’s available to her and take the appropriate actions that are necessary,” Tynan said in reaction to Hay’s two-page letter.

Hay warned any failure to act “could only be perceived as the district’s tacit endorsement of past and future ineptitude.”

The state grand jury report mentions deputy superintendent Judith Marte on page 72 about a report during a public meeting as a chief financial officer under Runcie.

It also mentions Jeff Moquin as Runcie’s chief of staff first on page 29; Derek Messier as the chief facilities officer first on page 35; Leon Bobadilla on page 42; Robert Hamberger, Ronald Morgan, and Maria Louisa Rouco on page 52; and David Watkins on page 106.

Marte and Moquin were among those who are still BCPS employees, but Hay’s letter Wednesday and Cartwright’s statement Thursday did not refer to any of them specifically by name. The next School Board of Broward County meeting is set for 10:05 a.m., on Sep 13.

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