South Florida Sun Sentinel | by Scott Travis | March 4, 2021
The longest-surviving top administrator from Robert Runcie’s decade as Broward schools superintendent is calling it quits.
Maurice Woods, the district’s chief strategy and operations officer since 2012, oversees several departments, including transportation, maintenance, purchasing and minority business recruitment.
n recent months, Woods, whose salary is $207,000, faced scrutiny related to his association with Tony Hunter, a former technology chief who was arrested in January on bribery and bid rigging charges after an investigation by the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Hunter first worked under Woods from 2013 to 2014 but left to take a job with Atlanta public schools. After Hunter was fired from that job, Woods persuaded the School Board to rehire Hunter in 2015 at $30,000 more than he had made during his first stint.
Woods supervised a purchasing department that oversaw $17 million worth of technology contracts that prosecutors say were illegally steered to a friend of Hunter’s.
Hunter’s arrest was part of a grand jury investigation looking into possible mismanagement and corruption in Broward and other districts. A final report is expected within the next few weeks.
Woods, who plans to leave April 2, told the Sun Sentinel his departure is unrelated to the grand jury investigation.
“It has nothing to do with that at all. I don’t focus on that stuff,” Woods said.
He said he’s leaving on good terms and plans to stay in South Florida
“There’s an opportunity that presented itself,” Woods said. “I can’t talk a whole lot about it. There will be a press release when it happens.”
Woods is a former technology chief for Chicago Public Schools. He was the longest serving of three employees who followed Runcie, a former chief of staff in Chicago, to Broward County after Runcie accepted the superintendent’s job in 2011.
Former Transportation Director Chester Tindall left in 2013 after turmoil in his department, while former Public Information Officer Tracy Clark stepped down in 2019 after a series of public relations blunders in the wake of the Parkland school shooting.
Woods was a fixture at School Board meetings, often criticized by board members for his attempts to explain errors and questionable practices. In a 2015 meeting, he blamed discrepancies in a report on “an error in the photocopying,” annoying board member Nora Rupert.
“You can’t tell me a copy machine put in numbers by itself, because if it did, I want it at my house because I need a little more thinking there,” Rupert replied.
Throughout his tenure, Woods remained a staunch defender of Runcie, who persuaded a divided School Board to give Woods a $6,000 raise in late 2019. Woods told the Sun Sentinel that Runcie has been “an amazing superintendent,” and he praised him in his resignation letter.
“I cannot thank you enough for all that I have learned and all the opportunities you have provided me during the past nine years,” Woods wrote. “My priority is to have a smooth transition for the district’s continued success and, most Importantly, the staff I led and served.”
Photo: Maurice Woods, pictured at a 2015 School Board meeting, announced his resignation as chief strategy and operations officer for Broward schools. (BECON/)