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Miami-Dade schools attorney tapped to aid in Runcie severance negotiations

David Goodhue
·3 min read

Broward County’s School Board unanimously approved Miami-Dade County Public Schools attorney Walter J. Harvey Tuesday to help in the separation agreement negotiations with embattled Superintendent Robert Runcie and General Counsel Barbara Myrick.

Harvey, 56, who has worked for the Miami-Dade School Board since 2009, will be aiding in the negotiations pro bono. His annual salary is $242,605.

He is expected to monitor talks between the two administrators and Broward School Board Chair Rosalind Osgood. He took a two-day leave of absence from his day job to complete the task, according to a memo he sent to the Miami-Dade County School Board.

A grand jury indicted Runcie and Myrick on April 15. Runcie, who pleaded not guilty, is charged with perjury in his testimony to the grand jury. Myrick is charged with disclosing grand jury proceedings. She has pleaded neither guilty nor not guilty, instead entered “stand mute,” meaning the court will enter a plea for her.

During a specially called School Board meeting last week, they both agreed to resign pending a separation agreement negotiated with the board.

Broward County School Board Superintendent Robert Runcie looks on during a School Board meeting on Tuesday, April 27, 2021, at the Kathleen C. Wright Administration Center. Runcie is charged with perjury after he was indicted by a statewide grand jury impaneled after the Parkland school shootings. He announced at the meeting that he would resign.
Broward County School Board Superintendent Robert Runcie looks on during a School Board meeting on Tuesday, April 27, 2021, at the Kathleen C. Wright Administration Center. Runcie is charged with perjury after he was indicted by a statewide grand jury impaneled after the Parkland school shootings. He announced at the meeting that he would resign.

Runcie, 59, whose contract stipulates he could stay on for another 90 days, stands to walk away with five months salary, which would be $137,000, as well as $196,000 in unused sick and vacation time.

The School Board hired him in 2011 and it extended his contract for a second time in 2017 to 2023. He makes an annual salary of $356,000.

Myrick, 72, could receive $92,000 — five months of her $220,000 annual salary, plus $116,000 in accrued sick and vacation time. The board named her general counsel in 2016.

Broward County Public Schools General Counsel Barbara Myrick speaks during a School Board meeting Thursday, April 29, 2021.
Broward County Public Schools General Counsel Barbara Myrick speaks during a School Board meeting Thursday, April 29, 2021.

The statewide grand jury, which Gov. Ron DeSantis authorized in February 2019 and which ended April 17, was tasked with investigating whether fraud was committed when school districts accepted millions of dollars from a state bond issue contingent on implementing school safety measures. It also investigated whether on-campus crime was under-reported by the district.

Runcie is accused of contacting at least one person who was a witness in another case the grand jury investigated. Prosecutors said he then lied to the grand jury when asked about that conversation.

Prosecutor Richard Mantei, who works for Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, said he has phone records that show Runcie contacted someone on the grand jury witness list on March 30, the night before he gave his two-day testimony to the grand jury on March 31 and April 1.

That other case resulted in the January indictment of the school district’s former technology chief, Tony Hunter, who was charged with buying $17 million worth of flat screen monitors for the district from his friend’s company in Georgia without going through the bidding process.

Hunter is charged with one count of bid tampering and one count of unlawful compensation. He pleaded not guilty and the case is pending.

Mantei said Myrick also contacted someone on the witness list for Hunter’s case before she testified to the grand jury last month.