A mid-level supervisor in Broward Schools’ troubled transportation department reaped more than $41,000 in salary bonuses during the last six months — money that continued to flow even as the school system’s bus service got off to a disastrous start this school year, records show.
Transportation supervisor Vince Harrell, the employee who received the bonuses, did not respond to a call seeking comment Friday, and the school system’s top administrative brass, including Superintendent Robert Runcie, did not make themselves available for comment.
The payments this year began with more than $36,500 paid to Harrell in June, followed by an additional $4,672 in September. The timeline shows Harrell continued to receive the extra pay even after the first few weeks of the school year were marred by late-arriving buses, no-show buses, and other issues that infuriated parents.
In a written statement released by district spokeswoman Tracy Clark, the district defended the payments to Harrell as appropriate because he had been working “out of class” — essentially performing the responsibilities of a higher-paying managerial position without being formally promoted to that role.
Harrell’s base salary is $53,764.
In Clark’s statement, she wrote that Harrell had been working out of class since 2010, and that there are a handful of other district employees — fewer than 10 — also working out of class and receiving subsequent salary adjustments. Harrell’s extra pay was for more than two years’ worth of extra responsibility, Clark wrote.
“Since 2010, there have been over fifty employees classified as working out of class, many of them for an extended period of time,” Clark wrote. “Working out of class was intended for temporary position changes as we look to fill open positions.”
Clark said the district has worked to reduce the number of employees working in this status.
The Miami Herald first requested information on pay adjustments in the transportation department on Nov. 8. The school district’s initial response identified only $4,672 paid to Harrell — primarily because it did not show the full time period requested. To date, the district hasn’t responded to the Miami Herald’s follow-up request for the complete numbers — the document showing Harrell’s payout leaked out through unofficial means.
School Board member Nora Rupert had herself requested the pay records for Harrell, and was also not provided them. After the information leaked out, Rupert said she was told by district administrators the money was owed to Harrell for work he performed.
“This is definitely something that we need to change, if this is the policy, that their salaries double in a certain amount of months,” Rupert said. “This is something management should have caught a long time ago.”