Trails in the Sand by Peter Traciet, the Street Detective
The dirt this week has been somewhat sensitive. Detective Traceit has had to be extremely meticulous and found it to be more excavating with care than digging.
Through some careful sleuthing, the Street Detective has learned through Red Broward, that the Honorable Judge Jeffrey Levenson of the 17th Judicial Circuit ordered Broward Schools to release texts and emails by December 5, 2022. The Broward Principals and Assistants Association (BPAA) and others made the request more than six months ago. The judge expressed outrage at the delays in releasing the public records and made it clear that the school district needs to produce the records or else.
The documents began flying from the sand soon thereafter, yet the totality of records released is probably less than 50 percent. It is apparent to Traceit that the hold up for producing the documents was to give people time to clean up the crime scene. Sifting through the documents generates more questions than answers for Ol’ Peter. What seems clear is that multiple people have conveniently buried communications deep in the sand. At first blush, there are zero text message communications from Board members Robin Bartleman, Donna Korn, Sara Leonardi, Ann Murray and Rosalind Osgood. Korn never turned over her phone and Murray’s device was returned but wiped spic and span clean. No explanation is given for others.
Peter noticed that some executive level staff members with no text messages were former Chief Academic Officer, Dan Gohl; current Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Nicole Mancini; former Chief of Staff, Jeff Moquin and former Chief of Schools, Dr. Valerie Wanza. It was reported that Dr. Wanza’s phone was damaged beyond repair and the SIM card was replaced causing all data to be lost. No explanation was given for others.
Interestingly, Peter noticed that text messages from Cartwright’s phone were extremely sparse, and it seems evident that some extractions may have been going on. The Street Detective surmises that content from those texts are probably so criminal, they have been buried deep into the earth’s inner most layer where temperatures reach over 7000 degrees Fahrenheit.
There were very few messages from former Board members Patricia Good and Laurie Rich Levinson. Also messages from Lori Alhadeff and Nora Rupert were lean.
The missing texts and gaps in text communication left Peter scratching his head in wonder and concluding that the cover up is worse than the crime.
Peter learned of this public records request months ago. The Broward district knew of it for more than six months, yet it did nothing to preserve the records.
What has Peter most enthused thus far is the series of texts between Debra Hixon and Anna Fusco. It is no wonder Fusco claims to “own” these people. The texts between these two began as early as 2019, when Hixon was running for her current countywide seat. The exchange shows a clear “courting” and “grooming” of Hixon by Fusco. From Hixon gaining the endorsement of the BTU to Fusco facilitating her endorsement of other Labor Groups and even Debbie Wasserman Schultz… at least this is what Fusco led Hixon to believe. Hixon was so entangled with Fusco on the campaign, she even asked for her advice when she responded to questions presented to her by organizations she was seeking endorsements from and help crafting public comments. It is no wonder Fusco takes credit for their election victories and confidently controls these Board members votes and decisions.
Strangely, text messages between Fusco and Hixon ceased (or did they?) just before she was elected, yet Ol’ Peter noticed they were good and plenty leading up to the 2020 election.
Fusco didn’t disappoint at all in her brash written demeanor often insulting others in ways that made even Peter Traceit cringe.
Fusco trolled the social media pages of “the competition” and often took screen shots of posts. Fusco sent a screenshot to Hixon of a post wherein community activist, Terry Scott of Pompano/Deerfield was supporting the re-election of Scott Israel for Sheriff. Israel received much opposition from the Parkland community because of the MSD tragedy. Fusco played on Hixon’s grief by telling Hixon “Terry Scott is a paid as*hole. He’s a nobody (sic) Nobody listens to him.”
The Street Detective went down other trails that demonstrated Fusco’s dislike for Pompano residents and the Blanche Ely High School community at large. Fusco responded to another social media post by an activist from the Pompano community who advertised a community meeting on Facebook. In a communication with Board member, Nora Rupert who represents Blanche Ely High School, Fusco questioned why the meeting was organized without the knowledge of the Blanche Ely principal. Fusco used racist dog whistle verbiage and referred to the school as a “BS community that’s being tormented by gangs and guns”. Traceit was shocked, yet not at all surprised that Rupert failed to call Fusco out on this.
Lucky for Traceit, emails are backed up to a server and if pulled from there, they could not be erased. Traceit reviewed hundreds or maybe even thousands of emails. Fusco often accused staff of being unprofessional, but her every email communication read like a dog on a bone. Traceit finally has part of the answer of why there was such a huge learning loss with Broward students during the pandemic. Fusco was relentless in demanding that principals not hold teachers responsible for their teaching responsibilities. She challenged principals who asked teachers to engage with students daily via discussions, chats, video chat using TEAMS. Fusco told the assistant principal at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas to “back off” after he checked teachers’ Canvas pages and gave input on their lessons to ensure they were covering standards. Another principal from Castle Hill Elementary was also admonished by Fusco for asking teachers to give access to their Canvas pages to administrators and department chairs so that they could give feedback.
More dirt was unearthed from letters school administrators wrote about their experiences with Fusco. In one letter, a principal expressed hurt and frustration feelings of being “harassed, bullied and treated in an unacceptable and unprofessional manner” by Fusco. Her letter detailed a phone conversation where Fusco called students at her special needs center “sociopaths” and “animals” and accused her of creating murderers at the school, including Nikolas Cruz. Traciet was buried in the sand with 100s of pages of similar complaints from school administrators from more than 50 schools. Corroborating statements were provided by other school administrators, school clerical and even teachers who detailed the threatening, unprofessional, loud and uncouth behaviors of Fusco and members of her team.
What has Peter Traceit scratching his head is how this was allowed to fester in an educational environment where character traits such as kindness, respect, honesty, self-control, cooperation, responsibility, tolerance and citizenship are supposed to serve as the essential core in the lives of students and employees. How does this go on without being challenged in a district where the superintendent’s theme is grace, respect and relationships?
What’s no longer buried in the sand is the notion that Cartwright needs to take her last bow at curtain call. It is also past time for Fusco to do her final curtsy, as well.
With the exception of Sharon Glickman, the past presidents of the Broward Teachers Union have always left under scandal. Tony Gentile’s 22 year stint as BTU president ended abruptly with federal charges of child pornography that earned him 3-5 years in prison. Pat Santeramo, who followed Gentile, served as BTU president for ten years, but his tenure ended abruptly in scandal. Santeramo was convicted of eight counts of corruption which landed him a prison sentence of 18 months and an order to pay nearly $100,000 in fines and restitution.
Peter surmises if someone doesn’t step in to save Anna Fusco from herself, she could certainly follow her predecessors. From this mountain of complaints to accusations from members that she has changed the bylaws to make it virtually impossible for anyone to challenge her presidency to alleged misuse of union dues, Fusco is on a dirty path of self-destruction.
Peter Traceit, the Street Detective, has yet to scratch the surface of the thousands of pages of emails and text messages. Rest assured that the scavenger hunt will continue and all facts will be dredged from the sand.