Broward School Board rescinds Vickie Cartwright’s firing by Gov. DeSantis appointees
Will Vickie Cartwright get fired — again?

The action comes after elected Board members replaced the ones appointed by Gov. DeSantis.

After being fired by a School Board with a majority appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, Broward County Schools Superintendent Vickie Cartwright has her job back — at least until Jan. 24.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel first reported the news.

The new Broward County School Board voted 5-3 to rescind the firing that DeSantis’ so-called “reform board” enacted in a late-night move on Nov. 14 during its last scheduled meeting. Since then, newly elected members have taken the places of four of DeSantis’ appointees. 

This time, School Board Chairwoman Lori Alhadeff, who had voted against firing Cartwright in November, voted against Cartwright’s continued employment with the country’s sixth-largest school district. Brenda Fam, a new Board member, and the lone DeSantis appointee on the Board, Torey Alston, joined Alhadeff in keeping on with the previous Board’s action to fire Cartwright.

Board veterans Debra Hixon, Sarah Leonardi and Nora Rupert were joined by newly elected Board members Jeff Holness and Allen Zeman in supporting Cartwright’s continued employment. She will be reevaluated on Jan. 24, in keeping with the Board’s action in October that put her on a 90-day probation.

A ninth School Board member, Rodney Velez, has not been seated yet, because of complications regarding a 27-year-old felony conviction.

Holness, who proposed the motion to keep Cartwright on, alluded to the circumstances when Cartwright was given her walking papers in November. Cartwright’s firing wasn’t on the agenda, but it was proposed and approved in response to an audit regarding a contract that had been enacted before Cartwright became the district’s leader.

“If the Superintendent is not suitable for the job, we will make that decision, but we should do it in a manner that follows protocols,” Holness said, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

But Alhadeff said she was ready to move on to a new leader.

“We are delaying the inevitable,” Alhadeff told the Board. “We are kicking the can, leaving her district shaky, not knowing what’s going to happen.”

Broward County schools have been in turmoil for the past two years, as the fallout from the Parkland shooting that left 17 dead has continued.

Cartwright came in as the interim leader of Broward schools 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, 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 to run for state Senate.

Cartwright was the Superintendent when Broward schools became the first school district defying the Governor’s edict prohibiting student mask mandates to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Two other Florida Superintendents who did the same were ousted in November, in Sarasota and Brevard counties.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


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