MIAMI (CBSMiami) – There was a show of support Friday morning for Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie who was arrested this week on one count of perjury.
Community, business, religious leaders, and local officials gathered in front of the Broward County Public Schools Administration building. Among those in attendance were Bob Swindell, President/CEO, Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, Senator Perry Thurston, Pastor Derrick Hughes with First Baptist Piney Grove, and Kathleen Cannon, President and CEO, United Way of Broward County.READ MORE: BSO Needs Help In Solving Teen's Murder On Mother's Day
Broward Commissioner, and former county mayor, Dale Holness has also expressed his support for Runcie.
“As the leader of the nation’s sixth-largest district, with nearly 261,000 students from over 177 countries speaking 151 different languages, he has done a magnificent job of turning our schools around for the better,” he said. “We have 69 A schools, 54 B schools, and zero F schools. That’s the kind of work he’s done”
“I’m saddened, broken heartened,” he added.
“We’re standing with him, we’re asking our entire community to stand with him,” said Senator Perry Thurston who said he traveled from Tallahassee to Fort Lauderdale for Friday’s press conference. “It shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone that these allegations originated where I just came from, in Tallahassee.”
Several people in Friday’s group alleged Runcie’s arrest was politically motivated.
“Is this politics or ‘poli-tricks’,” questioned Basil Bernard, a supporter of the superintendent.
Also on Friday, attorneys for Runcie filed a motion to dismiss the charge. The motion argued in part “the indictment provides no specificity whatsoever as to what statement is attributed to Mr. Runcie that constitutes the basis for the underlying allegation.”
After the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018, a statewide grand jury was empaneled to investigate school safety.
According to the indictment, Runcie, 59, is accused of making a false statement, which he himself did not believe to be true in regard to the material matter. That material matter is whether the school district was following school-related safety laws and mismanaging funds solicited for school safety initiatives put in place after the Parkland massacre that claimed 17 lives.
READ: Robert Runcie IndictmentREAD MORE: Stimulus Check Update: Will You Get A Fourth Relief Payment?
Runcie’s attorneys released the following statement Wednesday afternoon:
“Superintendent Runcie has fully cooperated with law enforcement throughout this statewide grand jury process. This morning, we received a copy of an indictment that does not shed any light on what false statement is alleged to have been made.
“He will continue to be transparent with the Board, the parents and the public with any new information he receives. Mr. Runcie will enter a plea of not guilty to the charge. We are confident that he will be exonerated and he intends to continue to carry out his responsibilities with the highest level of integrity and moral standards, as he has done for nearly ten years in his role as Superintendent.”
Some school board members are looking at Runcie’s contract which has another two years on it. However, there is a line in it that states the school board can have an evaluation at any time. The Broward school board has scheduled a discussion on the arrest at their workshop next Tuesday, April 27.
“The charges are serious and I think that accountability is important, I think we need all the facts,” said school board member Sarah Leonardi.
Also arrested was Broward County School Board General Counsel Barbara Myrick, 72. She is charged with unlawful disclosure of statewide grand jury proceedings, a felony.
Attorney David Weinstein said while on the surface the grand jury indictments look bad, when it comes to a legal proceeding, things aren’t as cut and dry.
“When I was able to take a look at the charges, there are some questions about what was said and how it was said, which may make it difficult to prove the allegations,” he said.
School board member Debbie Hixon said now is not the time to rush to any decisions.
“I think the grand jury ended on Saturday. This is the first step in a process,” she said.
Broward County is the nation’s sixth-largest school district with more than 270,000 students. Runcie has been superintendent of the district for nearly a decade. A spokesperson said Runcie is out of the office for a few days on already planned time off. He is due back at his desk Monday.MORE NEWS: Mega Millions Jackpot Increases To $430 Million For Friday Night's Draw On CBS4
Runcie’s arraignment is set for May 12th.