Broward schools tech chief resigns, then decides to stay
South Florida Sun Sentinel | By Scott Travis | September 21, 2021
A Broward schools technology chief submitted his resignation last week but decided Tuesday he’ll remain a district employee for a while.
Phil Dunn, 40, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Tuesday morning he was stepping down due to health-related issues; he has long-time cardiac issues he needs to address. His Sept. 14 resignation letter said his last day would be this Friday.
But by Tuesday afternoon, he said he had worked out an agreement to take medical leave instead of quitting.
Dunn, who makes $178,000, said he still expects the district to appoint a temporary replacement while he’s away for an unspecified time.
“I want to be available, but I don’t want to be in this job and not be fully engaged,” Dunn said.
The district has lost five top administrators in the past six months. Dunn said his colleagues were worried about further loss of institutional knowledge and asked him to stay on.
Those who have left are Superintendent Robert Runcie; General Counsel Barbara Myrick; Chief Financial Officer Judith Marte, Chief Strategy and Operations Officer Maurice Woods; and Brian Katz, chief of safety, security and emergency preparedness.
Dunn had agreed to join Katz, who resigned in July, in starting a new company called Safer School Solutions. Katz, who could not be reached for comment, created the company July 16, according to paperwork filed with the state.
But Dunn said that at this point the company doesn’t have a product or formal offering. He said he won’t have an active role in the company as long as he’s still working for the district.
Dunn was hired in August 2019 as chief information officer to replace Tony Hunter, an administrator later indicted by a grand jury on bid-rigging and bribery charges related to a questionable classroom technology purchase in the district.
That same grand jury indicted Runcie and Myrick. Prosecutors have listed Dunn as a key witness in their case against Runcie, who was charged with perjury.
Dunn has faced other challenges as well. In March 2020, a few months after he’d started, he led what was probably the district’s most dramatic education shift ever, as all students started learning at home on laptops due to the pandemic.
A year later, hackers attacked the district’s systems and demanded $40 million in ransom, which the district refused to pay. He persuaded the School Board to invest millions in cyber-security.
“This organization is attacked by malware easily several thousand times a year,” Dunn told the School Board in April. “When one of these attempts gets through, at best it’s highly disruptive. At worst, it completely stops everything.”