Broward Superintendent Licata’s Departure Sparks Debate and Negotiations

Peter Licata is set to negotiate his departure as Broward schools superintendent, with the potential of receiving a payout of about $192,000 as part of the agreement.

Licata, who has served in the role for only nine months, announced his intention to retire on December 31 due to a health issue, which he has chosen not to disclose publicly. At an April 15 meeting, the School Board unanimously approved Howard Hepburn, the district’s deputy superintendent for the past eight months, as Licata’s replacement.

The board’s decision, made during a publicly noticed meeting without prior indication of a superintendent change on the agenda, has drawn criticism from legal experts and School Board member Daniel Foganholi, who voted against the proposal.

Foganholi expressed concerns about the transparency of the process, stating, “Tuesday didn’t sit well with me and still hasn’t sat well with me.” He emphasized that his objections were not directed at Hepburn personally, but at the handling of the superintendent transition.

Following his retirement announcement, Licata will engage in negotiations with Board Chairwoman Lori Alhadeff on Friday. Any agreed terms will subsequently require approval from the full board. Alhadeff will also negotiate Hepburn’s new contract on the same day.

Experts anticipate that Licata may argue for severance and other benefits outlined under the “termination without cause” provision of his contract, citing the board’s immediate decision to replace him upon learning of his retirement plans. This provision typically includes a 60-day notice and 20 weeks of severance pay.

The board’s actions have sparked debate among members regarding the handling of the transition and potential financial implications. Some members, including Torey Alston, expressed dissatisfaction with the prospect of paying significant severance to Licata, suggesting that the funds could be allocated to other district needs.

The School Board is navigating the transition amid challenges, with Hepburn’s application for a superintendent position in Duval County raising questions about stability. Alhadeff highlighted Hepburn’s qualifications and urged the board to secure him as the permanent superintendent to maintain stability within the district.

Despite criticisms over the process, Hepburn remains focused on addressing district challenges and improving educational outcomes. He emphasized his commitment to the role and willingness to engage with concerns from stakeholders to ensure progress within Broward schools.