Shakeup in Broward schools draws accusations of racism as superintendent defends changes

By Scott Travis and Shira Moolten – South Florida Sun-Sentinel•June 14, 2022

Broward Superintendent Vickie Cartwright fended off her first major controversy Tuesday, as she was accused of unfairly demoting and sidelining Black administrators.

The School Board unanimously approved her plan, after hearing from deeply divided speakers.

More than 100 people packed the meeting. A flyer shared on social media, “Calling all minorities in Broward County. We need your voice. … We will not return to the back of the bus!!!!”

Cartwright immediately addressed the backlash in her opening remarks

“I am genuinely hurt. I am not a racist,” Cartwright said. “My entire career has been focused on ensuring equity and diversity.”

She said there are at least as many minorities receiving promotions as demotions.

Five Black administrators who had district director-level positions are being moved to principals, and they could face pay cuts in six months.

Another administrator Valerie Wanza had been overseeing principals but now oversees alternative and non-traditional schools, which many see as a less prestigious assignment. Her $195,000 salary will stay the same.

But Cartwright named several Black administrators who are getting promotions and raises, including Jermaine Fleming, a director who will get a $30,000 raise to associate superintendent; Veda Hudge, who is getting a $14,000 raise as gets promoted from director to executive director; and Karlton Johnson, a principal who is getting a $5,500 raise to become a director.

The audience was largely divided, with some district employees and members of the Broward Teachers Union supporting the reorganization, while many Black community members opposed the changes.

“This is the superintendent’s vision that she has carefully and cautiously created, and I think we need to coalesce around these decisions as we have around previous superintendents for the betterment of the district,” said Kenny Minchew, a longtime teacher and Broward Teachers Union member.

Minchew said teachers are often faced with reassignments or even non-renewals.

She added that she’d support the reorganization “because it’s vital to the success of our students, not necessarily individuals.”

Board member Nora Rupert beseeched Cartwright not to reassign an assistant principal at one of the district’s magnet schools, though she wouldn’t name the assistant principal in question or the school.

“Can we please keep the beloved AP in place for that school? We struggle with increasing enrollment, but this school has not, this school is doing well,” she pleaded. “I will be supporting H3 [the reorganization] with a heart that is heavy.”

Multiple board members blamed a general disjointedness for the controversy.

Board member Dan Foganholi described administrators packing up boxes, not knowing where they were going next.

He told Cartwright, “I don’t think it’s fair to micromanage you. Communication is the big thing that’s falling apart here.”


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