Broward County Schools Superintendent Vickie Cartwright was fired Monday night at the last scheduled meeting of the Board containing a majority of Gov. Ron DeSantis appointees, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
Cartwright came in as the interim leader of the country’s sixth-largest school district when the aftershocks of the Parkland school shooting resulted in the arrest and firing of the previous Superintendent in the spring of 2021, Robert Runcie. She was named Superintendent of the district in February.
Though she was not in a decision-making capacity during the controversy that resulted in the removal of four Broward County School Board members that a grand jury report found had neglected their duty, Cartwright soon found herself in the crosshairs of the Board members DeSantis appointed in their stead. DeSantis appointed a fifth Board member earlier to fill a vacancy resulting from Sen. Rosalind Osgood’s resignation from the board to run for state Senate.
Cartwright had been given 90 days to improve on Oct. 25, according to the Sun-Sentinel, but a scathing audit regarding two county contracts proved to be the last straw.
The discussion of her continued employment was not warned, but DeSantis-appointed School Board member Daniel Foganholi, who lost his bid for the Coral Springs City Commission last week, made the surprise motion at about 9 p.m. Monday.
After some back-and-forth, his fellow DeSantis appointees on the Board agreed, with the elected members opposed.
A special meeting planned for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday will name an interim leader, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
Torey Alston, the current Chair of the Board and the sole member who will stay on the Board after this month, said, “I think it’s time to blow up this incompetence, get rid of this culture of corruption.”
The firing could be undone, however. Two of the four Board members elected expressed either support or willingness to give Cartwright time to improve the district’s operation in their Sun-Sentinel editorial board questionnaires.
Before her firing, Cartwright said she was working on improvements. “I‘ve taken swift and immediate, very clear action,” she said. “When I put corrective actions in place, somehow it becomes my fault. I am rising to the challenge, not running from it.”
Cartwright was leading the district when Broward became the first school district to mandate student masks in defiance of the DeSantis’ decree that public schools could not require student mask-wearing.
On Monday, she became the second Superintendent involved in that imbroglio to lose her job. Alachua County Schools Superintendent Carlee Simon also lost her job soon after a DeSantis appointee joined the Alachua County School Board.
In a September state Board of Education meeting, Board Chair Tom Grady asked if Cartwright could be fired for defying the Governor’s order regarding masks. The board’s attorney told him it was a decision at the local level because each county’s Board hires its Superintendent.