South Florida Sun-Sentinel | By Shira Moolten | August 25, 2022
One of the next steps in the wake of a critical grand jury report that looked into Broward schools will be to hire an outside consultant to help assess the findings, Schools Superintendent Vickie Cartwright said Wednesday.
The 122-page grand jury report details mismanagement within Broward schools after the Parkland mass shooting. It was completed in April 2021, but was publicly released more than a year later, on Friday afternoon. The report recommends that Gov. Ron DeSantis remove four sitting School Board members: Patricia Good, Donna Korn, Laurie Rich Levinson and Ann Murray.
At the end of an hourslong School Board workshop Wednesday, Cartwright said she and the consultant will work together to note issues raised in the report that either “need action” or that the district has “already taken action” on. Cartwright said they then come back to the School Board with recommendations.
“A lot of you have been asking me this question and I want to make sure we’re on the same page,” Cartwright said. “My intent is to work with an outside organization to, alongside me, go through everything that is in the grand jury report.”
Levinson on Wednesday thanked Cartwright in response to her announcement about the plan to hire a consultant.
“When can we expect to hear something?” asked School Board member Daniel Foganholi, one of the board members not mentioned in the grand jury report as he was appointed this year.
Cartwright responded that she still had to “locate” the group to hire.
The district is aiming to spend under $50,000 for the consultant, which would allow them move forward without board approval, John Sullivan, a spokesperson for the district, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. But that might not happen. If the cost ends up exceeding $50,000, Cartwright will have to bring the item to the board.
“We haven’t done this before,” Sullivan said. “It might be the case it can’t happen without exceeding $50,000.”
He said the district would likely have to issue a request for proposals to find the consultant.
Board member Nora Rupert, who wasn’t mentioned negatively in the report, seconded Foganholi’s question and voiced support for the idea, saying, “I want to make sure every single aspect of it has an answer and it will be spot on.”
As of Thursday, it’s not yet known whether the governor will take the grand jury’s recommendation to remove certain School Board members. “We appreciate the work of the grand jury and are reviewing the findings and recommendations at this time,” Bryan Griffin, press secretary for DeSantis, said Friday.
Most of the current School Board members who were recommended for removal each spoke against the idea on Friday.
Levinson deemed it “a political hatchet job.” Good called it “unfortunate that this grand jury process has been weaponized and politicized in such a way to retaliate against Board Members who disagreed with the Governor’s views.” And Korn said she “looked forward to reviewing that information and reassuring our community that I have always placed our students first.”Broward-grand-jury-report-2022