Robert Runcie plans to plead not guilty to perjury charge

Broward County Public Schools superintendent accused of making 'false statement' during grand jury investigation
Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie smiles during 2019 school board meeting
Posted at 8:53 AM, Apr 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-23 08:53:41-04

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Attorneys for Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said Thursday their client will plead not guilty to a perjury charge.

Runcie was arrested Wednesday by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

According to Runcie's indictment, the grand jury was investigating, among other things, "whether refusal or failure to follow the mandates of school-related safety laws, such as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act, results and unnecessary and avoidable risk to students across the state" and "whether school officials committed-and continue to commit-fraud and deceit by mismanaging, failing to use, and diverting funds from multimillion dollar bonds specifically solicited for school safety initiatives."

The indictment said Runcie "did make a false statement" while testifying under oath in an official proceeding related to the investigation.

Robert Runcie arrest photo
Robert Runcie, 59, was booked into the main Broward County jail on April 21, 2021.

Broward County School Board general counsel Barbara Myrick was also arrested. Myrick is facing a charge of unlawful disclosure of statewide grand jury proceedings.

"It is a sad day in Broward County and across Florida when politics become more important than the interests of our students," attorneys representing Runcie said in a statement. "Superintendent Runcie has fully cooperated with law enforcement throughout this statewide grand jury process."

Fort Lauderdale-based attorneys Michael E. Dutko Sr., Jeremy Kroll and Johnny McCray Jr. said in a joint statement that the indictment "does not shed any light on what false statement is alleged to have been made."

They went on to say that their client will plead not guilty.

"We are confident that he will be exonerated and he intends to continue to carry out his responsibilities with the highest level of integrity and moral standards, as he has done for nearly ten years in his role as superintendent," they wrote.

Meanwhile, school board members are expected to discuss the matter during their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday.

Several community leaders and area clergy members have come to Runcie's defense and are expected at a news conference Friday morning "to show their support" for the superintendent. Among those expected to gather are state Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, and Keith Koenig, the CEO of City Furniture.