Trails in the Sand by Peter Traciet, the Street Detective
Some dirt is just hard to scrub clean and leaving Vickie Cartwright in her position for 60 days after voting to fire her is a stain that Broward School Board will soon regret having to deal with.
Ol’ Peter went digging through files of Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties when they recently hired new superintendents. When Palm Beach county’s former superintendent, Dr. Donald Fennoy resigned after just three months on the job, it’s Board immediately named the sitting Chief Finance Officer, Mike Burke as its interim. Detective Traceit is told that this Board understood the need for consistency and went inside to a senior level employee who understood the inner workings of the district and could provide consistency. Along that same line of thinking, Traceit is also told that it is the reason the Board abandoned its search for a superintendent and named Burke as its permanent superintendent.
The Street Detective did similar digging in Miami-Dade and learned its Board quickly courted an insider, Dr. Jose Dotres, back to Miami-Dade to serve as its superintendent when the 14-year tenured superintendent, Alberto Carvahlo announced he would be taking the superintendency in Los Angeles.
These Boards are about the business of effectively and efficiently sifting through the sand. But not Broward. Broward’s Board would rather have a fired superintendent working behind the scenes “politricking” to create the traction for a “revote” in the same way she “politricked” to get Nora Rupert to bring a Board item to have her considered permanently for the Super job. Cartwright knew from the onset that she was unable to apply as interim, but she brokered a dirty deal anyway. Sources are telling Ol” Peter that Cartwright is dragging the sands trying to create a path back to the job.
Detective Traceit is uncovering news in the sand that a special board meeting may be called next week in an attempt to undo Cartwright’s dismissal for a second time. With only eight Board members seated, Cartwright needs five of eight to win her job back. Four of eight is just 50 percent and not a majority. Ron Velez is still squirming in the sand trying to secure clemency to clean up his felony conviction. But Traceit is told that it doesn’t matter because clemency is not retroactive and even if granted, Velez won’t be seated.
But back to counting votes. As the Street Detective understands, if a board item is presented to discuss Cartwright’s return, five of eight members must agree. If four or more disagree, it fails, and Cartwright’s name is splattered with even more mud than it had two weeks ago when she was fired twice in two days.
Ol’ Peter’s sleuthing reveals that Torey Alston and Brenda Fam are firm negatives with no discussion.
While Peter Traceit watched the news this weekend, he learned through WPLG 10’s, This Week in South Florida, that Board Chair Lori Alhadeff, has no desire to revisit Cartwright as superintendent. She wants to move forward.
The Detective currently traces three NO votes in the sand, but at least four are needed.
Debra Hixon was firm that she would not bring an agenda item to reconsider Cartwright as superintendent, but she did not say how she would vote if someone else did. Sources tell Traceit that Hixon has her own troubles with using her influence as a Board member while being paid by the cryptocurrency giant, FTX. The Detective counts Hixon as a strong possible to rescind the termination brought forward by another Board member.
Sarah Leonardi was most critical of Cartwright’s performance on her evaluation, yet she voiced a vehement desire to maintain her as superintendent during the two previous motions to fire her. The Detective counts Leonardi as a slight to moderate possible to uphold the termination.
Nora Rupert has been a steadfast supporter of Cartwright. Traceit dug up Board meeting records that indicate Rupert is the one who brought the item forward to make her eligible to apply for the permanent job when it was clearly stated that the interim was ineligible to apply. Trails in the sand has led Traceit to some pretty reliable dirt that reveals the Pompano community is not happy with Rupert’s decisions and they are vowing to start four years out to find a candidate to run against and beat her in 2026. Rupert doesn’t seem phased by this, but Traceit has noticed she has a pretty good poker face. The Detective counts Rupert as a slight possible to uphold the termination for reasons of not flip-flopping. However, the Detective also dredges up a slight possible that Rupert will vote to overturn Cartwright’s termination because Rupert is consistent even if she is consistently wrong.
Ol” Peter has been circling the sand around Dr. Allan Zeman like a shark circling blood filled waters. Zeman is smart and plays in the political sand pile pretty well. He seems empathetic to Cartwright’s plight but understands the big picture of what overturning her termination would mean as far as public perception and irritating the State of Florida President. The Street Detective counts Zeman as a strong possible to uphold the termination of Cartwright.
The final player in the sandbox is Dr. Jeff Holness. The Streets are telling Peter Traceit it needs a body and Holness might just do. Holness, if eligible to do so, is the one who will most likely bring the board item forward to reconsider Cartwright’s termination as directed by someone from the Land of Oz. The Street Detective is finding a pickle in the sand with Holness’ name on it. He may be caught in quicksand trying to decide how to vote. Traceit’s digging has uncovered that Anna Fusco of the Broward Teachers Union has not publicly gone against Cartwright, but she has remained steadfastly in the middle about saving her. If the Land of Oz sends Holness in to vote to overturn the firing, Fusco may have a different take, there may be some mudslinging with Holness caught between a rock and a sand pile. Ol’ Peter thinks there is a strong possibility that Holness is in trouble and it may not matter how he votes.
All in all, Peter Traceit counts 4 to uphold the termination and 4 to overturn which means Cartwright would be fired from the same job three times in about three weeks.
These are The Street Detective’s finding today, but things have a way of shifting when sifting in the sand. Ol’ Peter Traceit will continue dragging the sand for additional clues and news.