The attorney of outgoing Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) Superintendent Robert Runcie is arguing for the embattled former public official’s perjury charge to be thrown out, citing that prosecutors haven’t specified what he is accused of lying about to a grand jury.
During a virtual court hearing last Wednesday that Runcie attended via Zoom, attorney Jeremy Kroll asked, “What is it that the grand jury truly indicted for?” He further argued that Runcie must know precisely what he is accused of lying about if he is to be able to fairly defend himself.
Broward Circuit Court Judge Martin Fien plans to issue his decision on whether to dismiss in writing, however, a timeframe for that opinion was not set. The next scheduled court date is on September 23.
Weeks ago, Jamaican-born Runcie had pleaded not guilty in the case, which led to his reaching an agreement to step down from his position at the helm of the school district.
“I cannot put myself above the needs of our district,” he had said, offering to leave his post. “We’re unfortunately in a climate where forgiveness, compassion and love have far too often taken a back seat to grievance, anger and hate.”
Runcie is accused of lying to a grand jury investigating how districts spend money on safety issues. The grand jury was formed after the Parkland tragedy.
Robert Runcie reached a separation agreement worth about $750,000 with the school board, and while he is no longer on the job, his technical last day is August 10. The school board is considering possible interim replacements from a pool of applicants.
Runcie, 59, led the nation’s sixth-largest school district for nearly 10 years and had been lauded for closing the achievement gap between white and minority students. He had also been named superintendent of the year multiple times by both state and national organizations.