School board member shocked by police chief's resignation

School board member shocked by police chief's resignation

Calling it a "complete shock," a Palm Beach County School Board member on Friday said she's saddened by the sudden resignation of school district Police Chief Frank Kitzerow.

"This is a very big loss for the district," said Board Member Erica Whitfield. "He is highly skilled, well respected. He's done so much for our system around mental health and school security, keeping our kids safe."

INTERVIEW WITH SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER:

Palm Beach County School Board member talks Chief Kitzerow

Kitzerow became the school district's police chief in July of 2018, just months after the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

"That was a very trying time for our system," Whitfield said. "He brought such a huge skill set. I think he's done such a great job in this position."

In the years that followed, Kitzerow oversaw a major milestone of having at least one school district police officer at all 179 district-operated schools.

"Our level of security and safety has never been so high," Whitfield said.

"During my tenure, I have achieved the innovative goals that I set for school safety and security," Kitzerow wrote in his resignation letter. "All of this progress, and my confidence in the team presently in place, were very instrumental in my decision to take on new challenges outside of the district."

Whitfield said she's aware of issues related to Chief Kitzerow's tenure, including a labor practice lawsuit and several grievances.

Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association President John Kazanjian told WPTV on Thursday night that "morale is really low" in the school district's police department.

"I am aware of the issue that came up," Whitfield said. "I don't think that that would play a role in [Kitzerow's resignation]. I really don't think it's causing that huge of an issue within the system. I really think I've never seen our police so happy."

Whitfield added that she's spoken with many police officers who say they enjoy working with the chief.

"The system has been very strong, probably the strongest I've seen it in my six years on the board," Whitfield said.

While Kitzerow's official last day hasn't been announced, Whitfield said she believes it will be in a few weeks to give school district officials the opportunity to find an interim chief and start the process of picking a replacement.

A school district spokesperson said Kitzerow’s replacement and last day will be announced early next week.

"What he has done in that role has been super valuable," Whitfield said.

Superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy of the School District of Palm Beach County has not commented on the chief's resignation.

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