Ron DeSantis, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for governor, said Thursday he would like to see Broward School Superintendent Robert Runcieremoved from his job.
Asked if he wants to see Runcie gone, DeSantis said: “I do. I would like to see that.”
Runcie has become a lightning rod for criticism from many parents and others in the community in the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre, in which 17 people were killed and 17 injured. He also has many defenders.
Critics, especially Republicans, have expressed mounting displeasure with Runcie, particularly because of the school system’s PROMISE program, which has become highly controversial.
PROMISE is the school district program that offers alternatives to students arrested for some misdemeanors. The School District initially said the Parkland shooter was never eligible for the program but later said he started PROMISE but didn’t complete it.
DeSantis said Runcie should go in answer to a reporter’s question about his comments during a speech to the Palm Beach County Republican Party’s annual Lobsterfest dinner in Boca Raton.
During his speech to about 450 Republicans, DeSantis mentioned one of the dinner attendees, Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was one of the students killed in the shooting.
DeSantis said he would “stand for security in our schools” and said he would “work with people like Andy Pollack to make sure we fix the problem once in for all.”
He said that means “adequate security. But it also means we hold accountable those who have failed us.”
DeSantis said that applies to people working in the Sheriff’s Office, the school superintendent, or the FBI call center, which received warnings about the shooter but took no action to prevent the massacre.
“They all need to go,” he said.
After his speech, DeSantis elaborated, saying he supports efforts to change the makeup of the Broward School Board. The School Board elections are Aug. 28, the same day as the Republican primary for governor.
“I am backing what Andy Pollack’s trying to do in those [School Board] races. I think he is trying to elect reformers that will hold Runcie and everyone else accountable.”
DeSantis said he doesn’t think the governor could remove the superintendent, who is hired by the School Board. That would be up to the School Board, he said.
He’s previously said if he’d been governor when the shooting happened, he would have removed Broward Sheriff Scott Israel.
Israel’s agency came under scrutiny over repeated visits to the school shooter’s home before the massacre, a deputy’s failure to enter the school and try to stop the shooting, and Israel’s assertion of leadership prowess in a widely panned cable television interview.