A school principal whose daughter was killed in the Florida school shooting back in February is speaking out about the district's response.
April Schentrup is the principal of Pembroke Pines Elementary School. Her daughter, Carmen, was killed in the Valentine's Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. According to a report by the Sun Sentinel, Schentrup recently spoke to the school board about their unsatisfactory response to the tragedy.
Schentrup took some time off for bereavement after Carmen was killed. She said that the school board tried to dock her pay for this time, leading to added stress over her job security as she dealt with the trauma. On top of that, she said that she was admonished when she tried to ease back into her duties.
"This is not a part-time job," Superintendent Robert Runcie reportedly told her.
Shentrup added that not one of the nine school board members had sent her a condolence letter or a card until this month, adding that they came “coincidentally a day after I added my name to speak at today’s meeting.”
The only acknowledgement of the shooting that Schentrup got, she said, was “an email blasted to the entire district saying the mass shooting would be lumped as one tragedy for insurance purposes.” Her husband, Philip Schentrup, added that Runcie had offered them his condolences, but accepted no responsibility for the attack.
"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,” he said. “That was an outrage, given I was burying my 16-year-old daughter."
Members of the school board reportedly listened quietly to Schentrup's words, but offered no response. Nora Rupert, the School Board Chairwoman, told the Sentinel that she did feel terrible about what she had 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 brought more logistical complaints as well. They pointed out that Stoneman Douglas High had violated security protocols on the day of the shooting. The school gates were open 20 minutes before dismissal, and no one was there to monitor them, allowing the gunman to be inside the building before anyone realized his intent.
The grieving couple said that the principal, Ty Thompson, refused to meet them to discuss the gates. They were referred instead to the district's public information officer, Tracy Clark, who didn't acknowledge the issue of the gates.
“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.
As for Schentrup, Clark claimed that the district had tried to work with her on her work schedule and her flexibility. For the Schentrups, there is not enough change going on inside their local schools.
"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.
"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," her husband added.