Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie and the school district’s general counsel, Barbara Myrick are scheduled to appear in court next month to formally hear the charges against them.
A statewide grand jury, authorized by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in February 2019, charged Runcie, 59, on April 15 with perjury regarding testimony he gave between March 31 and April 1.
The investigation involves the district soliciting and receiving state funds for safety measures mandated after the Feb. 14, 2018, massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
Myrick, 72, was charged with unlawful disclosure of a statewide grand jury proceeding.
The indictment for Myrick accuses her of “knowingly and unlawfully” disclosing to at least one person outside of the grand jury at least some of the details of the proceedings “and/or” the identity of “persons referred to or being investigated by the statewide grand jury.”
She testified between March 31 and April 14.
What she and Runcie said specifically that got them into trouble is not known because grand jury proceedings are not open to the public.
They were indicted April 15 and arrested on Wednesday by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Both were released on their own recognizance later that morning.
They’re both scheduled to be arraigned at 9:30 a.m. May 12 in front of Broward Circuit Judge Martin S. Fein.
Attorneys for Runcie, Michael Dutko and Jeremy Kroll, released a statement Wednesday saying the charge is politically motivated and their client will enter a plea of not guilty. Kroll said Thursday morning he still does not know Runcie is accused of lying about.
“There has been no information provided as to what was purportedly false,” Kroll said.
Myrick’s attorney, J. David Bogenschutz, said Wednesday night that he had not yet seen the indictment, but added that his client was also likely to plead not guilty.
Craig Trocino, director of the Innocence Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law, said he cannot remember the last time he’s read about a perjury charge being brought during a grand jury proceeding.
“Grand jury perjury indictments are quite rare, and, it’s surprising for me to see it in this context,” Trocino said Thursday.
As a candidate, DeSantis said twice that if he were to win, he would suspend Broward Sheriff Scott Israel over the mass shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Three days after being sworn into office, DeSantis did just that.
About one month later — a day before the first anniversary of the Parkland shooting — DeSantis called for the Florida Supreme Court to enlist a statewide grand jury to look into Broward County’s school safety measures, as well as other county laws designed to protect schools.
The grand jury was tasked with looking for violations, like failures to follow the 2018 school safety law or whether schools misused funds from bond money meant for school safety initiatives.
DeSantis noted at the time that he heard the calls from families to oust Runcie, but that since the superintendent is appointed by the School Board, the governor cannot remove him.
This is a developing story will be updated.