FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — The Broward County School Board held its first meeting Wednesday since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre one week ago.
The original agenda was scrapped ahead of the session.
“It seems a bit heartless to call a meeting of the School Board when we are still in mourning after 17 died so tragically,” said School Board Chair Nora Rupert.
Board members took part in a moment of silence and focused on the victims and paying tribute to their lives.
“To my Marjory Stoneman Douglas family and the entire Broward Community, our hearts have so many holes, but we will remember for eternity, and this will not define us,” said School Board Member Abby Freedman.
There was also a heart-felt statement from Superintendent Robert Runcie and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High Principal Ty Thompson.
“One week ago, ironically on Valentine’s Day, the heart of Broward County was broken by the horrific shooting that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School,” Runcie started. “That day we witnessed the worst of humanity but we also witnessed the best of the human spirit.”
Runcie also spoke about first responders, police and teachers.
“We are extremely grateful for our first responders and law enforcement agencies who came from all over Broward County. It was a sight to behold. But most of all we are grateful for our teachers and our administrators for the immediacy of their response and their courage that they displayed in that horrific moment. We also went to thank everyone across this country and around the world for your prayers, your thoughts, your acts of kindness and your donations.”
He ended by saying, “There are no words to describe the sorrow and the grief that this community is feeling. We have lost some wonderful, promising children and truly dedicated teachers and administrators. Our priority is to focus on the well-being of our students, our staff and our families. Our thoughts and prayers continue in this difficult and long journey to recovery.”
Chairwoman Nora Rupert then introduced a video recorded by Principal Ty Thompson.
His video started, “On Wednesday, we experienced and unthinkable act of violence.” He made sure to thank those who responded so quickly.
“I really need to thank the students and the staff for their heroic efforts putting in place our procedural protocols that we practice quite regularly. I truly believe that lives were saved due to those protocols. Thank you to the first responders who got here so quickly. Thank for your school district; local, state, and federal for all of their support and continued support moving forward.”
Thompson explained why he hasn’t done any media interviews.
“My number one job is to be here for my staff, my students and our community in this time of need. We lost 17 lives on Valentine’s Day, that’s supposed to be the International Day of Love. We are going to take the love we lost and spread it over the next days, weeks, months, and even years,” he said getting a little choked up.
“The love you shared and continue to share is going to help us get through these trying times. And Eagles, I promise you I will hug each and every one of you, as many times as you need, and I will hold you as long as you need me to, for all 3,300 of you and your families and we will get through this together. Our family is strong, our students are strong, we will persevere in these trying times.”
He ended, “As you can see, my staff and students are living our motto, “Be positive, be passionate and be proud to be an Eagle. We are MSD Strong, continue to send us your thoughts and prayers and God bless the Stoneman Douglas Eagle Nation.”
Students from Stoneman Douglas are expected to return to class Tuesday. There will be grief counselors, new class schedules and a heavy law enforcement presence that will last until at least the end of the year, according to Runcie. Students will be released two hours early.
Teachers and staff are scheduled to return Friday Feb. 23.
A voluntary orientation will be held from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday Feb. 25. Counselors and support services will be available at the orientation, and the return to school.
The district is also reviewing long-term security plans at all schools. Runcie said the district plans to ask the Legislature this session for funds for more school resource officers. He said the district would need about $11 million to $16 million to add more officers.
Runcie also wants more fences, gates and barriers around school perimeters so people can only enter a school campus at the front office.
As for the freshman building where the mass shooting took place, Runcie wants it demolished.