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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie laid out a series of security upgrades to Broward County school campuses.
He also pushed back against critics who have questioned his job performance and the performance of this school district in the lead up to and the aftermath of the Parkland shooting.
Specifically, Runcie said on Thursday that the district is following the recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Safety Commission by allowing any staff member to call a code red, adding hard corners to classrooms and giving law enforcement live access to school security cameras.
He also said the district is 82% finished with installing single point of entry openings at schools. Runcie said there have been millions spent to upgrade security cameras across the school district and the district has created a new Office of School Safety.
One of the functions of that office will be to perform an annual audit of schools to make sure they are following security protocols.
“Since February 14, we’ve worked on nothing but security and safety in this district,” Runcie said.
Runcie also promised a renewed focus on safety and security to avoid some of the mistakes like unlocked gates that allowed confessed school shooter Nikolas Cruz onto the campus.
“We’re putting culture in of safety. Everyone needs to think of that relentlessly,” Runcie said. “All gates are locked during schools hours. When the gates are opened, there’s somebody there monitoring those gates.”
Lori Alhadeff is a school board member. She is also the mother of Marjory Stoneman Douglas murder victim Alyssa Alhadeff.
“As a school board member, I plan to hold him accountable,” Alhadeff said.
From her standpoint as a board member and mother of a victim, it’s painful to listen to the amount of failures that led to the MSD shooting.
“It’s heartbreaking,” she said. “Call a code red. Lock doors. Lock gates. You see someone with a rifle bag you take them out. As a school board member, I need to make sure this never happens again.”
Other Parkland parents, like Max Schachter, whose son Alex was murdered at MSD, say the school district has not shown a sense of urgency to put additional security measures in place.
“I would like to know why did it take them 11 months,” Schachter said. “We knew all this on February 15th. I’m pleased that they seem to be doing things that will improve the safety of our children. I wish they had acted a lot sooner.”
Runcie said the district must balance safety and security with its core mission of teaching and learning. Lori Alhadeff said security must be a priority.
“At the end of the day, test scores don’t matter if our kids don’t come home alive,” Runcie said.
At the news conference, Runcie defended his performance and said the district did not wait to do the security work. He responded to critics of his job performance, like Andrew Pollack, father of MSD victim, Meadow Pollack. Pollack has made clear that he wants Runcie to resign.
“I’m staying her focused on the work that needs to be done,” Runcie said.
Earlier this week, the school board approved an agreement with the Broward Sheriff’s Office which gives them access to real-time, live video feeds from school surveillance cameras.
Providing law enforcement with access to the real-time, live video surveillance feeds is among the recommendations made by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, which released a report last year that featured school safety recommendations.
The commission also recommended teachers who volunteer and undergo training be allowed to carry guns.