- Superintendent of the Broward County School District Vickie Cartwright was removed from her position Monday night, following a vote by the county School Board
- Cartwright came under fire after the district was subjected to a state audit over questionable exit payments to three recently-departed administrators
- School Board members have repeatedly called into question Cartwright’s leadership, demanding that she present a list of improvements she can make
- An interim superintendent will be named later this week
Superintendent of the Broward County Public School system Vickie Cartwright was removed from her position Monday night following a 5-to-4 school board vote.
Cartwright, who assumed the role in February after her predecessor Robert Runcie was arrested on perjury charges, came under fire after a recent state audit was conducted to investigate whether the school district violated state law by giving $237,000 in exit payments to three administrators.
The complaint, drafted by an investigator within the department’s inspector general’s office, alleged concerns of waste related to the administrators receiving payouts far exceeding what is permissible by state law.
“This is about accountability,” said Daniel P. Foganholi when introducing the motion.
Those voting to remove Cartwright cited what they referred to as “toxic behavior,” seeking to “reset, even when uncomfortable,” though some pushed back on the motion.
“This is the third time now we’ve addressed this topic, and I thought we had put it to rest last time. There was a consensus across the board that the Superintendent be given … a 90-day probationary period, knowing that those of us who are leaving would not necessarily be part of this process. I’m deeply disturbed by the audits … I don’t know to what extent you put all of this on the current Superintendent’s lap. I understand the chaos argument entirely, but if the board makes that decision today, we’re 5 or 6 months without a superintendent,” said Board Member Kevin P. Tynan, who ultimately voted to remove Cartwright.
All five of the votes in favor of removing Cartwright were cast by appointees of Gov. Ron DeSantis, with the four dissenting votes coming from elected members of the school board.
DeSantis in August suspended four Broward School Board members — Patricia Good, Donna Korn, Ann Murray, and Laurie Rich Levinson — following recommendations from the Twentieth Statewide Grand Jury.
After deliberation, the panel of jurors concluded that district officials and the four members of the school board acted with “deceit, misconduct, misfeasance, negligence of duty, and incompetence” in mismanaging school safety funds prior to the 2017 Parkland shooting.
The 122-page public report also named former school board chair Rosalind Osgood, a state senator, who left the school board to seek public office.
According to the report, the jury’s investigation was directed by a mandate from the Florida Supreme Court. Passed on February 25, 2019, the mandate ordered the examination of four primary allegations against the school board members, administration staff, and public officials including:
- Whether refusal or failure to follow the mandates of school-related safety laws resulted in unnecessary and avoidable risk,
- If public figures committed — and continue to commit — fraud through the acceptance of state funds intended to be used on school safety measures while failing to act.
- Whether school officials committed fraud by mismanaging or diverting funds intended for school safety initiatives.
- If school officials violated state law by systematically underreporting incidents of criminal activity to the state Department of Education.
Board members have recurringly criticized Cartwright’s leadership abilities, questioning her ability to properly serve her job title in an October meeting.
Though it was decided that she would remain superintendent, the School Board demanded that she present a list of improvements she could make to the district.
Following her removal, the School Board will reconvene to appoint an interim superintendent later this week.