South Florida Sun Sentinel | by Scott Travis | May 6, 2021
Minutes after receiving a $226,000 separation package from the Broward School Board on Thursday, General Counsel Barbara Myrick lambasted the board as dysfunctional.
Myrick warned the board that it was already losing two “highly dedicated committed individuals” — herself and Superintendent Robert Runcie — and said more problems could come if the board doesn’t shape up.
Myrick and Runcie both offered last week to step down after a statewide grand jury indicted them while investigating the school district.
“I would implore you as I leave that you all are the parents, and because you aren’t functioning as a cohesive group, eventually those underneath you aren’t going to function,” she said.
She said Runcie’s cabinet, made of up top administrators, has been functioning well. But she thinks that may not continue.
“As soon as the cabinet and the people underneath them begin to fall apart, the district will really lose,” she said.
Myrick then thanked “everybody who has been kind to me and has looked out for this district.
Myrick’s comments didn’t go over well with board member Sarah Leonardi.
“I think the way someone leaves an organization says a lot about them,” Leonardi said. “To do so without humility and without acknowledging the scandal that brought this on and by blaming everyone in the room was really astonishing to me.”
Myrick was indicted on a felony charge of sharing information outside the grand jury. Runcie was charged with felony perjury, accused of contacting a witness in a grand jury criminal case and then denying it during his own testimony.
The School Board is negotiating Runcie’s departure but took up Myrick’s on Thursday.
Myrick, who makes $220,000 a year, will receive the equivalent of more than a year’s salary. The $226,000 package includes $84,000 for 20 weeks of severance, $61,000 in unused sick time and the rest in retirement and other benefits.
She and Runcie are both expected to remain in their roles until temporary replacements are named.
Myrick’s last official day with the district will be June 30, although an interim replacement is expected to start before then. The School Board plans to discuss the next steps for the general counsel and superintendent at a workshop Tuesday.
Myrick has worked for the district since 2002 and has been the general counsel since 2016. During the past five years, Myrick has fiercely fought to keep the district’s public records private whenever possible, especially when the media were seeking information about the Marjory Stoneman Douglas mass shooting in Parkland. She has defended School Board members when they have held meetings that the media viewed as violations of the state Sunshine law.
One of Myrick’s critics has been Nathalie Lynch-Walsh, a parent and chairwoman of the district’s Facilities Task Force. Lynch-Walsh has frequently criticized the performance of Myrick, Runcie and the majority on the board who have supported both of them.
Last week, Lynch-Walsh asked the School Board why they were still accepting legal advice from an attorney that had been accused of a felony. She lashed out again Thursday.
“Do hire somebody who knows the meaning for the word integrity all the time, not just when it applies to people they like,” Lynch-Walsh said. “Please do not repeat the same mistakes.”
Myrick immediately fired back, saying Lynch-Walsh makes untrue allegations.
“For her to continue to stand here and for you to allow her to go on, and to hear the negativity that comes out of that woman’s mouth,” Myrick said. “I implore you to … not allow people who have nothing but negative things to say about this district and its employees to continue their diatribes before you.”
Lynch-Walsh responded on Twitter: “Something truthful is always coming out of my mouth. That the truth is ugly is not a situation of my making.”
Another public speaker, Myrick’s longtime friend Mary Fertig, gave a far more positive description of the lawyer.
“Her ability to listen thoughtfully, to encourage people to talk through things, to stay calm in the midst of a storm and her compassion have marked her career with the School Board” Fertig said.