Broward Superintendent Peter Licata to retire; Hepburn to replace him

Broward Schools Superintendent Peter Licata, who was hired less than a year ago, made a surprising announcement Tuesday that he plans to retire due to health issues.

Licata, 59, said he planned to stay through December, but Board Chairwoman Lori Alhadeff asked the board to take steps to immediately replace him with Howard Hepburn, 45, the district’s chief academic officer.

The School Board voted 8-1 Tuesday morning to appoint Hepburn to a three-year term, and he became superintendent for the rest of Tuesday’s meeting. Board member Daniel Foganholi dissented, voicing concern about the overlapping salaries of Licata and Hepburn.

Alhadeff said Hepburn has done a great job. She recently wrote a letter recommendation for Hepburn for another superintendent job and she had worried the district would lose him. “We have a diamond right here. We need to keep him.”

Licata said he informed the School Board confidentially in December of a medical condition for which he’s receiving treatments. He declined to say what the health issue is.

“After conferring recently with my doctors, my wife and my four adult children, it is best I retire from this incredible role as an educator after 30 plus years in South Florida,” he said.

He told reporters after the meeting that he talked with his doctor Friday, and “he said, ‘You’ve got some choices to make.’”

Alhadeff said it was important to replace Licata now instead of allowing him to finish in December. She said Licata will be here for a while to help with Hepburn’s transition.

If Licata, who makes $350,000 a year, were to voluntarily resign effective immediately, he wouldn’t qualify for severance pay.

But by the board deciding to separate with Licata out earlier than December, he will likely be entitled to 60 days’ notice and 20 weeks of severance pay, which would likely entitle him to a payout of $204,000. That’s about the same amount he would be paid if he stayed through December.

The exact terms of Licata’s departure will be negotiated with Alhadeff and must be approved by the School Board.

The terms of Hepburn’s contract must also be negotiated with Alhadeff and approved by the board.

“I’m so elated to continue the focus to continue the priority to move our district to an “A” district,” Hepburn said after the meeting. “I know it takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of effort, and it’s going to take a lot of collaboration on the part of the public to build that trust back in us as we move forward to doing what we can to make sure BCPS is the best choice for our kids moving forward.”

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