Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Principal whose daughter was killed at Stoneman Douglas blasts school district
Scott Travis Sun-Sentinel May 23, 2018
April Schentrup and husband Phil Schentrup look on last month from the side of the stage during a memorial concert by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High Orchestra for their daughter Carmen Schentrup, who was killed in the mass shooting at the school in February.
A principal who lost her daughter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High accused the school district Tuesday of lacking empathy, transparency and an ability to accept blame for the tragedy.
April Schentrup, principal at Pembroke Pines Elementary, told School Board members the district tried to dock her pay for time she took to grieve her daughter Carmen, one of 17 killed during the Feb. 14 massacre. When she tried to ease back into her principal’s job, Superintendent Robert Runcie told her, “this is not a part-time job,” she said, as she held up a portrait of Carmen.
None of the nine School Board members sent condolence letters or cards or called her family until May 8, Schentrup said, “coincidentally a day after I added my name to speak at today’s meeting.”
The only correspondence she received from the School Board was “an email blasted to the entire district saying the mass shooting would be lumped as one tragedy for insurance purposes.”
Runcie offered condolences to the family but accepted no responsibility, said her husband, Philip Schentrup, who also spoke to the School Board.
"A week after my daughter was murdered, Mr. Runcie came to my house, sat at my kitchen table, told my wife and I the school district had done everything right,” Philip Schentrup said. “That was an outrage, given I was burying my 16-year-old daughter."
School Board members quietly listened and offered no response. After the meeting, School Board Chairwoman Nora Rupert told the South Florida Sun Sentinel she felt terrible about what she heard.
“It breaks my heart. I feel partly responsible, because I thought the district, a School Board member, someone would have sent notes,” she said. “I know I wrote some notes and went to funerals, but there are no words. I wholeheartedly apologize for my part.”
The Schentrups said the district violated security protocols on Feb. 14 by having school gates open 20 minutes before dismissal and not having anyone there to monitor them. They said Stoneman Douglas Principal Ty Thompson refused to meet them to discuss security plans.
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Runcie referred questions to the district’s public information officer Tracy Clark, who said district officials are devastated about the losses the Schentrups and other families suffered.
“We can only share that Superintendent Runcie and district officials have met with and remain in communication with Ms. Schentrup regarding the Marjory Stoneman Douglas tragedy and to provide information on how the district can continue to support her and the demands she faces returning to work,” Clark said.
She said the district has offered April Schentrup flexibility with her work schedule and reinstated her pay for all time she took off from Feb. 15 to March 30. It also approved a leave of absence for her that will have “the least impact” on her accrued leave time, she said.
Clark said the district has taken steps to increase the law enforcement presence and conduct a threat assessment of schools.
“The district is aware that as a community we all must adjust to a new normal and we are working to do so appropriately and with compassion,” Clark said.
The Schentrups say the district is still doing too little.
"The same administration and security staff that allowed the worst tragedy in Broward school's history are still in charge of discipline and security today,” April Schentrup said.
Her husband added, “"I believe the district is dragging its feet, not because it did everything right as stipulated by Mr. Runcie, but because it did so many things wrong."
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