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Parents of slain Stoneman Douglas students slam school board over inaction

Lois K. Solomon, Sun Sentinel on

Published in News & Features

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The parents of students killed in the Parkland massacre slammed the Broward County School Board on Thursday for what they called a lack of decisiveness in the months since the attack.

They criticized the nine-member board for making decisions and then "unmaking" them, citing these reversals:

-- The board pledged to install metal detectors at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, site of the massacre, by the first day of school, which will be Wednesday, but Superintendent Robert Runcie wrote a letter to parents last week saying there were too many complications, including expected long lines and staffing problems.

-- The board hired a retired Secret Service agent to investigate the actions of administrators before the killings, but withdrew that plan last month because Runcie said the work might duplicate the work of the state's Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission.

"We have focused on the issues, but the School Board has not provided answers," said Tony Montalto, whose daughter, Gina, was among the 17 killed. "Where is the accountability?"

Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter, Jaime, was killed, called a recent school board meeting a "mockery" for its arguments among board members.

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"They blame each other for decisions that are made and unmade," he said.

The parents urged Broward residents to vote for their slate of candidates in the Aug. 28 primary. Five of nine school board seats are up for election, and the parents have endorsed candidates in each race. Two parents whose children died, Lori Alhadeff and Ryan Petty, are among the candidates running for the board.

But during the news conference, the parents declined to call for the resignation of the board's chief employee, Runcie, whom many residents have faulted for mistakes made since the killings.

"We have pointed out that the school board has had many failures and can make the changes if they need to," Montalto said in response to a question about calling for Runcie's resignation.

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