FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Superintendent Dr. Peter Licata announced his resignation during a Broward School Board meeting, citing health concerns.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Licata attributed his resignation to a medical condition he has been treated for, for several months.

“I communicated to the Board on [Dec. 17 2023], which is protected from the public record, regarding the status of the medical condition that I have been receiving treatments for,” he said.

Licata said he spoke with his family before making his decision public, but not disclosing the health diagnosis.

“After conferring recently with my doctors, my wife and my four adult children, it is best that I retire from this incredible role as an educator after 30-plus years here in South Florida.”

After Licata’s announcement, the board, in an 8-1 vote, replaced him with Howard Hepburn, a deputy superintendent of the district.

“Student achievement [and] student performance is always the priority,” said Hepburn. “In everything that we do as a system, no matter if we’re serving meals in the cafeteria, no matter if we open the door to let kids on our bus, or teaching kids in our classrooms, that priority is always student achievement.”

Hepburn came to Broward County from Palm Beach County with Licata, who assumed the reigns last summer, replacing Dr. Vicky Cartwright. She was removed due to her leadership style. Cartwright only held the position in Broward schools for about a year as well.

“For the stability of our students and teachers and our schools, Dr. Hepburn is the superintendent now,” said Lori Alhadeff, School Board Chair.

Dr. Hepburn told 7 News that he is committed to carrying out the work of Licata and the school board.

“He’s [Licata] taught me a lot through the years, his visions, his mission has been aligned with mine since we met,” said Dr. Hepburn.

Licata led the sixth-largest school system in the nation and second-largest in Florida since July of last year.

“It is an exciting time for Broward County Public Schools and I believe there is an amazing staff that’s been assembled here for great things,” said Licata. “I can’t thank the community enough for their faith and trust in me. I have forged some incredible relationships and I believe the District is on the right path for even greater accomplishments.”

Hepburn becomes the sixth superintendent of BCPS in less than four years and is the second to reside under a school board with some members appointed by the governor, and not elected by voters.

Licata insists he is not being forced to step down.

“I’m certainly not being forced out, there is no doubt about that,” said Licata.

As far as politics in the classrooms, Licata said “Public education is not a political ideology, it’s an American ideal for everyone and it’s got to stay that way.”

The new superintendent understands the challenges he will be facing but says he’s ready for it.

“It is a lot to handle, I love complex and challenging environments, and I feel like my contributions are best suited for that,” said Hepburn.

Licata said he wishes the incoming superintendent well.

“People say ‘Is anyone ready for this job?’, No, nobody is ready for this job but you do your best and you lead the right way and you keep kids as your focal point,” said Licata.

The school board will be busy in the next couple months as the school wraps up. They will be negotiating Hepburn’s new contract as well as a separation agreement with Licata.

Licata’s last day will be Dec. 31.

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