Vickie Cartwright, the superintendent of the Broward County Schools, was dismissed Monday evening at the Board’s final planned meeting, which was attended by the majority of Ron DeSantis’ appointments, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
When the fallout from the Parkland school tragedy led to the arrest and dismissal of the previous Superintendent, Robert Runcie, in the spring of 2021, Cartwright took over as the country’s sixth-largest school district’s temporary head. In February, she received the district’s superintendent title.
Cartwright soon found herself in the sights of the Board members DeSantis appointed in their place, despite the fact that she was not in a position to make decisions during the controversy that led to the removal of four Broward County School Board members who were found to have neglected their duties by a grand jury report.
Sen. Rosalind Osgood’s resignation from the board to run for the state Senate resulted in a vacancy that DeSantis had filled by appointing a fifth Board member.
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Should The Fired Broward Schools Chief Be Allowed To Stay At The Discussion?
Vickie Cartwright, the superintendent of the Broward Schools, was let go on Monday, but she won’t leave right away. The School Board turned down Chairman Torey Alston’s desire to name former district administrator Earlean Smiley as Cartwright’s immediate replacement as temporary superintendent.
Instead, the board will take applications. That will keep Cartwright, who was fired without justification, in his current position until the search is over. She will nonetheless continue working for another 60 days as per her contract.
State severance law mandates that she work for the district during that period. She is already receiving 20 weeks of severance pay, or $134,615, the maximum permitted by law. So long as she isn’t working, she cannot receive another two months of compensation.
Former Superintendent Robert Runcie was allowed to serve out the last three months of his contract before resigning in 2021 after being charged with perjury. His and Cartwright’s employment barely coincided for one week, and the School Board had problems finding a replacement.
A dramatic conclusion to the three-month reign of a “reform board” led by five governor Ron DeSantis appointees came in the School Board’s 5-4 decision on Monday night. Following board members’ outrage at harsh audits pertaining to two district suppliers, School Board member Daniel Foganholi submitted the unexpected motion about nine o’clock on Monday.
Foganholi stated, “This organisation employs some fantastic individuals, yet toxic behaviour persists. “Accountability is key in this.” He was joined by the other four DeSantis appointees: Ryan Reiter, Kevin Tynan, Manuel “Nandy” Serrano, and Torey Alston.
“A chaos manager is not necessary. We require a change agent, according to Reiter. “Someone to handle those difficult decisions. Week after week, turmoil has engulfed this district. The four elected board members, Nora Rupert, Debbi Hixon, Sarah Leonardi, and Lori Alhadeff, all voiced their disagreement.
In light of the board’s recent request to the superintendent to address a lengthy list of issues on October 25, some claimed it was unfair. Leonardi declared, “I cannot endorse this conduct since it is impetuous and unsuitable at this time. Next Monday, all five of DeSantis’ appointments, all but Alston, will be replaced by members who have been elected. Board member Debbi Hixon also questioned whether the decision violated the Sunshine Law, which governs open meetings in the state.
Although the meeting was announced to the public, the superintendent’s dismissal was not on the agenda. Alhadeff, who intimated last month that she was willing to take Cartwright’s place, declared on Thursday that she found the lack of warning to be intolerable.
The sole media representative present was a reporter from the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Around the time of the vote, several television stations arrived, but security barred them from entering.
Because of the late hour and his absence, district spokesman John Sullivan, who was out of town on Monday, claimed there was confusion. He later apologised on Twitter to the media who were turned away. Nathalie Lynch-Walsh, a meeting regular who advocated firing Cartwright, was the sole speaker who addressed the audience.
After claiming on Monday that the vote was legitimate because it had been announced, interim general counsel Marylin Batista stated on Tuesday that a court had ruled that a board “should not be allowed to deprive the public of the right to be present and be heard through crafty means.”
Hixon requested on Tuesday to cancel it and hold a new vote the following week, once four of the five DeSantis appointees have been replaced by elected officials. The vote to not reconsider was rejected by the same five members who had previously voted to dismiss Cartwright.
It’s conceivable that the next School Board, which will take office on November 22, will decide to overturn the decision and rehire her. The four newly elected School Board members, Rod Velez, Jeff Holness, Brenda Fam, and Allen Zeman, have not, however, expressed support for it.
Zeman said on Tuesday, “It’s wise for the person who will occupy the seat next week not to pass judgement when people that are in a seat are doing something.” Fam has advocated for firing Cartwright at many gatherings. On Tuesday, attempts to contact Holness and Velez failed.
After serving as an interim superintendent from August 2021 to February 2022, Cartwright was appointed to the position permanently. Her agreement was set to end in late 2024. After a debate over two audits that criticised district practices, the decision to fire the superintendent was made.
One was on how district officials transgressed rules by awarding contracts to Chuck Puleri & Associates, a cap and gown vendor who, according to auditors, overcharged students and parents. A further audit looked into Boston-based Public Consulting Group and looked into whether district employees had any illegal connections to a former district employee who now works for the firm.
Although the audit didn’t come to that conclusion, Alston, the board chairman, was alarmed because of the issues it raised about Cartwright. Since late August, when DeSantis replaced four board members, Cartwright’s position has been in risk.
She has frequently been accused of failing to change a dysfunctional culture that has allowed waste and corruption to proliferate. Throughout the conference, Cartwright defended her position.
She declared, “I’ve taken quick, decisive, and very unambiguous action.” “Somehow it becomes my fault when I implement corrective measures. I’m accepting the challenge and not trying to avoid it.
She expressed her shock and dismay at the incident to the media on Tuesday. The chairman of the board, Alston, had a totally different perspective. I want an administration that is not linked to many of the current and previous failures, he declared. Systemic problems exist. failures on a large scale.
It is obvious that there are people in the building who have ties to the individuals, groups, and actions that have tarnished the neighbourhood. “I think it’s time to blow up this incompetence, get rid of this culture of corruption,” continued Alston. He delivered a more friendly statement after the meeting.
It is time for change and healing, and Alston stated in a statement that “we will do that with a seasoned educator who will lead our District, make difficult decisions, and interact with all stakeholders.”
“As Chair, I will collaborate with Dr. Cartwright and our acting general counsel to negotiate a smooth separation and transition, and I look forward to welcoming and collaborating with a new interim superintendent as we search for a transformational leader,” said Dr. Cartwright.
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