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Politics

Does Broward Schools' Program Coddle Troubled Students and Excuse Dangerous Behavior?

February 28, 2018 - 6:00am
Dazed students outside Douglas High School after the shooting
Dazed students outside Douglas High School after the shooting

We know the FBI made mistakes. We know the Broward Sheriff's Department made mistakes. What is yet to emerge is the role the Broward County school system played in the Valentine's Day shooting death of 14 students and three teachers at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School.

As progressives continue the push for more gun control, a Broward County disciplinary program they long have favored is now getting more scrutiny. 

The PROMISE program (Preventing Recidivism through Opportunities, Mentoring, Interventions, Supports & Education) was initiated by the Broward County School District in 2013 after a similar program had been implemented in Miami-Dade County. 

The idea was that “minor misbehavior” by students should not result in an arrest if a student can be dealt with in some other way. These types of programs were also championed by the Obama administration, which encouraged efforts to reduce the "school-to-prison pipeline," particularly for minority students.

Many in the community have asked how many of suspected shooter Nikolas Cruz's offenses while at Stoneman Douglas rose to the level of felonies and why they didn't end with him in handcuffs? While the Broward County School Board has been mum on much of Cruz’s disciplinary history, the PROMISE program may be the culprit.

Back in 2013, Broward County Superintendent Robert Runcie was looking for a way to lower the student arrest rate. According to District data, 1,062 Broward County students were arrested in the 2011-2012 school year, the highest number in the state of Florida. Seventy-one percent of those arrests were for misdemeanor offenses.

Broward School Superintendent Robert Runcie
Broward School Superintendent Robert Runcie

So, the Broward County School Board sought to take some of those misdemeanor offenses out of the equation. Rather than involve law enforcement, minor infractions would instead be handled within the school system, driving down the arrest rate -- making for a less "troubled" school system.

A document filed in 2016 lays out exactly how this would work. The agreement was made between the Broward County School Board, the State Attorney’s Office, and several law enforcement organizations, including the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. The document lists several misdemeanors to be handled through the PROMISE program rather than the criminal justice system. Some examples are disorderly conduct, gambling and marijuana possession. Others listed include harassment and threats, of which Cruz has been accused.

If a student is found to commit any of those violations, even by a police officer or sheriff’s deputy, the program dictates the student should be dealt with by the school system. That could result in school-mandated punishment, a meeting with parents, or a simple warning. This can happen up to four times per school year before a student is referred to law enforcement.

By some measures, the program was a success. The arrest rate did drop, and district data showed 90 percent of students did not repeat their bad behavior after going through the PROMISE program.

Cruz, however, may be proof one bad apple can spoil the whole barrel. He showed a behavior pattern that could have been cause for arrest long before Feb. 14. Reports of fighting and and assault are vague and may have only qualified as misdemeanors. But according to Buzzfeed, Cruz was also accused of cyberstalking and sending threatening messages online and in person while he was a student at Stoneman Douglas. These could have resulted in felony charges under federal law.

The PROMISE program purportedly treats felonies and other acts that “pose a serious threat to school safety” differently. But even in those situations, the program does not mandate a student be arrested. Instead, an officer may consider placing the student under arrest. That is, the officer may also decide not to put the student under arrest, even in the event of a felony.

Here is a major failing of the system: Had Cruz been adjudicated even in juvenile court for a felony, he would have been prohibited from owning a firearm until he was 24 years of age. Even a misdemeanor hearing could have resulted in a court mandating mental health counseling, which could also force Cruz to give up his weapons. And obviously, if he was sitting in a prison cell, he would have been prevented from carrying out the deadly shooting at his former high school.

Sunshine State News reached out to the Broward County School Board for comment on whether the PROMISE Program will be reviewed and evaluated but did not receive a reply. Without further comment from the School Board or Stoneman Douglas, it’s not clear whether Cruz was shielded through the PROMISE program or the "system" dropped the ball in some other way. Stoneman Douglas did ask for a threat assessment after the alleged assault, and Cruz was eventually moved to another school. But as many search for answers as to why Cruz’s previous bad deeds did not end in an arrest, this program is likely to receive more scrutiny.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel voiced support for the PROMISE program in a recent interview with Jake Tapper, calling it an “excellent program.” But he also said law enforcement needs more authority to arrest people -- students included -- when warranted.

That sentiment was echoed by Jeff Bell, head of the Broward Sheriff's Office Deputies Association. In an interview with Laura Ingraham, Bell said he supports the intent behind the PROMISE program but says it isn’t perfect. “Nobody wants to fill the jails with juveniles ... The problem is, when that program started, we took all discretion away from law enforcement officers to effect an arrest if we choose to.” 

SSN spoke to Bell following that interview. He repeated those concerns, saying officers should have more authority to decide whether to arrest a student, rather than allowing schools the final say.

Defenders of the program likely will say one possible mistake does not invalidate the entire thinking behind the program. 

In a 2015 Sun Sentinel story detailing some successes of the PROMISE program, Maria Schneider, head of the juvenile unit in the Broward State Attorney’s Office, is quoted as saying, “We’ve accomplished reducing the arrests. Now it’s ‘how do we keep that up without making the schools a more dangerous place.’?" 

It will be up to Broward County School Board members and other officials to determine what role the PROMISE program played in the Parkland tragedy, and whether schools are more dangerous because of it.

 

Ryan Nicol, a freelance writer living in Sunrise, wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News.

Comments

And now us Calif. taxpayers are paying to have Eric Holder as tech. adviser to sanctuary california. Sounds like a marriage made in hell.

this is alrighy

"No good deed goes unpunished", maybe they need more discipline not less?

Other districts now have similar policies they want to diminish the amount of outdoor suspension and arrests because in the end it looks bad on the district. Then they boast on reports how the amount of suspensions and arrests are at record lows to make it look like these are successful programs. It is all smoke and mirrors that result in school administrators having no power to discipline properly. Look into other policies of neighboring counties it is pretty close to this. It is just disgusting. No consequences.

Robert Runcie stated that there was no indication or premise seen/noted that would have indicated that this shooting could happen... (close in verbatim) I call a total ignorance of that statement!!! If that is not a head in the sand demeanor, then I don't know what is!!! I CALL FOR HIS RESIGNATION AND SHERRIFF ISRAEL FOR OVERSEEING THE FAILURES THAT COULD HAVE PREVENTED THIS SLAUGHTER... Attempting to go right to Tallahassee and Washington for gun controls and NRA shaming knee jerk reaction style and CNN doing an agenda based town hall to take advantage is a disgrace...

Robert Runcie stated that there was no indication or premise seen/noted that would have indicated that this shooting could happen... (close in verbatim) I call a total ignorance of that statement!!! If that is not a head in the sand demeanor, then I don't know what is!!! I CALL FOR HIS RESIGNATION AND SHERRIFF ISRAEL FOR OVERSEEING THE FAILURES THAT COULD HAVE PREVENTED THIS SLAUGHTER... Attempting to go right to Tallahassee and Washington for gun controls and NRA shaming knee jerk reaction style and CNN doing an agenda based town hall to take advantage is a disgrace...

This PROMISE program, while 90% effective, still has a 10% chance of failure... In this case 17 of 3300 murdered + seriously wounded and still in hospital and possible that a few more could die as a result of the bullet wounds + the long term emotional effects and grieving community long term... IMHO, this PROMISE scheme was abused in it's protocol right there on the school board admin level as they tried to keep any arrest young Cruz should of had from happening... The board suspending him, the NO backpack for him rule, the emails to teachers to beware of this kid, the kick out of him only to attend another Broward school, the reports of him selling knives on campus, death/violent threats towards students, the 3 dozen sherriff calls about his behaviors, the calls to the FBI, etc.... This shows a COMPLETE failure of the school system in conjunction with the Broward Cty authorities to address THAT 10% that CRUZ demonstrated... It SO looks like it was ignored, brushed off, pushed aside, swept under the rug, shrugged off all because they were chicken poop to drop a dime on him for sake of the IMAGE and PROGRAM...

You are exactly right, that more in the community are not asking questions and demanding answers is beyond me, maybe it speaksbto the lack of real investigative journalism this type of story calls for. I havevtaken the time to read the documents that the School Board/Runcie Signed. Healing Circles, self policing/ self reporting by schools with Federal conditions that place demands on lowering arrests, and showing an improvement along RACIAL lines. Once they signed on, the money spigot was opend to Runcie, But failure to show a significant improvement and dire consequences are alluded to. So you tell the public how the School System is going to play this? Between 2013-2016 they collected approx close to 100 million dollars for showing a reduction in arrests. What was that reduction? In School Year 2016/2017 - 60% ! THATS NOT EVEN POSSIBLE.... THE KIDS IN BROWARD DID NOT ALL OF A SUDDEN BECOME CHOIR BOYS AND GIRLS... AND JOIN GLEE CLUB. IT JUST GOT DOWNPLAYED, UNREPORTED. But we would have to be truly stupid, to believe that our classrooms became safer, that our children stopped being assaulted, that teachers saw a 60% improvement in behavior... I Call Bullshit! BULLSHIT ISRAEL, BULLSHIT RUNCIE... IF I LIVED IN BROWARD, I WOULD BE DEMANDING A COMPLETE REVOKING OF THIS PROGRAM ALONG WITH RESIGNATIONS OF SCHOOL LEADERSHIP WITH RUNCIE AND ISRAEL LEADING THE PACK.

As a teacher, I agree 100% that the discipline policies in Broward County are far too lenient. It takes teachers begging and pleading to get these kids disciplined. They are afraid of nothing because they are coddled. We have to find something to fit the behaviors within this Matrix that makes it nearly impossible to get the proper discipline until something goes out of control and people get hurt or worse yet, killed. The kids need a combination of counseling and hard discipline - depending on the behaviors. It's not about liberals, it's about a system that is more preoccupied with ratings and scores and looking bad, rather than healing and rectifying what is broken.

Correct, Sandra. That $100 million should be turned over to the injured students and an end put to the program. What started as not a bad idea for very minor behavior problems escalated into a monster as soon as they attached $$ to it.

HOW CAN WE FORCE THIS TRUTH INTO THE Mainstream media?? They are obviously burying it, pushing stories against T*** and for gun control? Crazily, Cruz is as “white” as can be, but his ADOPTED NAME gave him minority status! The young people in this country need to know what Obama has done to them m!

Maybe we need a Promise Program that promises to hold kids accountable like they use to do. *** ***

Israel proves the NRA's arguments In reality, Israel's gun policy is living proof of the arguments the American gun lobby has been making for years. Contact Editor Tzvi Lev, 21/02/18 10:38 Wednesday's horrific shooting in Florida has reignited the gun rights debate in the United States over the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, adopted in 1791, which states:: "... the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." In the past, proponents of limiting civilian access to firearms have extolled Israel as having the proper approach to limiting mass shootings, pointing to the numerous legal hoops Israelis must jump through in order to be granted a gun license. "In Israel, gun ownership is a privilege rather than a right," wrote Public Radio International in November. "There is no such thing as a right to bear arms in Israel," the Huffington Post preached after the 2016 shooting in an Orlando nightclub that left 50 dead. Newsweek praised Israel for obligating its citizens to "show genuine cause to carry a firearm, such as self-defense or hunting". The message is clear: Israel has the right approach in curtailing access to firearms, and the United States would be well advised to tread the same path. In reality, Israel's gun policy is living proof of the arguments the American gun lobby has been making for years. Gun rights advocates contend that the way to stop mass shootings is by ensuring that there are always well-armed citizens present who can neutralize the shooter. As NRA chairman Wayne Lapierre always says, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun". A bedrock of the NRA's philosophy is that criminals will always acquire guns illegally, and draconian gun laws only render law-abiding citizens defenseless. When the knife intifada erupted in September 2015, the Israeli government's response was to ease the process for the civilian populace to obtain weapons. Enter Israel: When the knife intifada erupted in September 2015, the Israeli government's response was to ease the process for the civilian populace to obtain weapons. After a particularly bloody Jerusalem shooting attack that killed four, then-Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan drastically changed the gun laws in order to significantly raise the number of armed civilians on the streets. Instantly, graduates of Special Forces units and IDF officers with the rank of Lieutenant and above were permitted to purchase guns at their will, security guards were allowed to bring their guns home after work, and the minimum age for a license was reduced from 21 to 18. Erdan explained that "civilians well trained in the use of weapons provide reinforcement in the struggle against terrorism", while Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat called for every resident to carry a gun, and was even photographed traveling the city carrying a Glock 23. In addition, the overwhelming majority of terror attacks in Israel are stopped by armed civilians, not law enforcement. For example, the terrorists in the 2016 Sarona market attack were stopped by armed passersby. A pistol-carrying tour guide put an end to the 2017 ramming attack in Arnona that left four soldiers dead. In Israeli eyes, guns are a valuable deterrent against terrorism. In fact, terrorists have told the Shin Bet internal security service that they often target haredi Jews due to the high likelihood that they are unarmed. Gun control supporters would answer that the mandatory military service that every Israeli undergoes justifies the trust Israel has of its citizens. However, this argument doesn't hold water. The vast majority of IDF soldiers aren't combat soldiers and are certified as 02 riflemen. To be 02 requires one to shoot between 40 and 70 bullets. The pistol course needed to obtain a license takes less than four hours. It is a far cry from the highly trained population that the Left imagines. Gun control has been proven to be a dismal failure in Israel. The Israeli Arab communities are rife with illegal weapons, with some police estimates putting the number of unlicensed weapons in the Arab sector as high as 500,000. Think about that for a second: The most heavily guarded borders in the world and a highly professional Shin Bet are still not enough to prevent criminals from obtaining illegal firearms. When terrorists attacked a school in Maalot in 1974, Israel did not declare every school a gun-free zone. It passed a law mandating armed security in schools, provided weapons training to teachers and today runs frequent active shooter drills. There have been only two school shootings since then, and both have ended with teachers killing the terrorists. It is an approach that the Americans should take to end the constant slaughter of innocents. https://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/21714

2008 Democratic Party Platform (Firearms / gun control) August 25, 2008 2008 Democratic National Convention: Denver Firearms We recognize that the right to bear arms is an important part of the American tradition, and we will preserve Americans' Second Amendment right to own and use firearms. We believe that the right to own firearms is subject to reasonable regulation, but we know that what works in Chicago may not work in Cheyenne. We can work together to enact and enforce commonsense laws and improvements – like closing the gun show loophole, improving our background check system, and reinstating the assault weapons ban, so that guns do not fall into the hands of terrorists or criminals. Acting responsibly and with respect for differing views on this issue, we can both protect the constitutional right to bear arms and keep our communities and our children safe. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=78283 Obama won, the democrats swept suprmajorities into the House and Senate and with absolute power for 2 years did none of the above.

As Left of the world, the Democratic party want to quit the arms from the people that obtain it of legal way. They take advantage of each event for to incite their activists on behalf of arms control, in this opportunity the students are being used for this purpose. *** I have had that in countries where the arms were picked, Dictators took the power & subdue people. Thanks to God exists the Second Amendment for to defend ourselves. *** I think that Barack Obama had a bad idea creating Promise Program due the students were not arrested for felonies committed. Children doing it should be punished. Regarding to authorities, the criminal negligence of FBI & Sheriff of Broward Scott Israel were a disaster that permitted that 17 (students & teachers) dead. Also the police officers acted as cowards, they should enter & face Nicholas Cruz & some lives could be saved. They never used commonsense. All of them, sheriff included, should be fired without honor. To parents, you are the most important hero of your children, from early age teach them to respect all the persons because it is saving children of the bulling, don't permit that your descendants became political activists purpose. Let them to study that Education is first.

2012 Democratic Party Platform (Firearms portion of the platform) September 3, 2012 Campaign 2012 2012 Democratic National Convention: Charlotte Firearms. We recognize that the individual right to bear arms is an important part of the American tradition, and we will preserve Americans' Second Amendment right to own and use firearms. We believe that the right to own firearms is subject to reasonable regulation. We understand the terrible consequences of gun violence; it serves as a reminder that life is fragile, and our time here is limited and precious. We believe in an honest, open national conversation about firearms. We can focus on effective enforcement of existing laws, especially strengthening our background check system, and we can work together to enact commonsense improvements - like reinstating the assault weapons ban and closing the gun show loophole - so that guns do not fall into the hands of those irresponsible, law-breaking few. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=101962

2012 Democratic Party Platform (Firearms portion of the platform) September 3, 2012 Campaign 2012 2012 Democratic National Convention: Charlotte Firearms. We recognize that the individual right to bear arms is an important part of the American tradition, and we will preserve Americans' Second Amendment right to own and use firearms. We believe that the right to own firearms is subject to reasonable regulation. We understand the terrible consequences of gun violence; it serves as a reminder that life is fragile, and our time here is limited and precious. We believe in an honest, open national conversation about firearms. We can focus on effective enforcement of existing laws, especially strengthening our background check system, and we can work together to enact commonsense improvements - like reinstating the assault weapons ban and closing the gun show loophole - so that guns do not fall into the hands of those irresponsible, law-breaking few. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=101962

1 Gun-Free Zone Statistic No Liberal Will Talk About The latest big development of the anti-gun movement is the advent of “gun-free zones.” In the upside down world of liberal logic, more guns somehow equals more violence. Evidently, in their minds, it’s the guns themselves that do the killing, not the raging lunatics who fire them. By that train of thought, you’d think these gun-free zones would be violence free, right? After all, if you take away the guns, how is anybody going to do anything? We all know that’s complete and utter stupidity. Trying to tell people that they can’t carry in a gun-free zone just creates a place where innocent citizens become a flock of sitting ducks. And now we have the evidence to prove it. According to Breitbart’s ***ysis of a Washington Post report, gun violence actually is declining… just not in gun-free zones. Here’s what they say: On December 3, The Washington Post reported that gun crime has been on the decline for about 20 years, except for high-profile shootings in gun-free zones; WaPo claims those shootings are on the increase. According to WaPo, “In 1993, there were seven homicides by firearm for every 100,000 Americans. … By 2013, that figure had fallen by nearly half, to 3.6 [per 100,000].” Breitbart News previously pointed to this decline and explained it correlated with a massive increase in privately owned firearms over the same period of time. For example,Congressional Research Service showed that the number of privately owned firearms increased from 192 million in 1994 to 310 million in 2009. And record background checks under Obama make it easy to see how tens of millions more privately owned guns have found their way into Americans’ hands since 2009. So gun ownership increased for 20 years, but “gun homicides” decreased–except in gun free zones. WaPo points to a study by Mother Jones that claims that high-profile shootings began increasing in gun-free zones in late 2011/early 2012. The examples Mother Jones provides are the Aurora movie theater, Sandy Hook Elementary, and the D.C. Navy Yard, all of which were gun-free zones. Other examples of shootings in gun-free zones that could have been cited are Arapahoe High School (December 2013), Fort Hood (April 2014), Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (June 2015), Chattanooga military offices (July 2015), the Lafayette Grand Theatre (July 2015), and Umpqua Community College (October 1). Increases in gun ownership correlated with drastic reductions in firearm-related homicides, but creating zones where law-abiding citizens are denied the ability to be armed for self-defense have allowed high-profile attackers to find easy targets. Can you believe it? It would’ve proven the point sufficiently if the evidence showed that gun violence persists in gun-free zones, but it actually goes even further by showing that gun violence declines everywhere else besides gun-free zones. http://gunsgoldbullets.com/1-gun-free-zone-statistic-no-liberal-will-talk-about/

Behind Cruz's Rampage: Obama's School-Leniency Policy By Paul Sperry, RealClearInvestigations March 01, 2018 Despite committing a string of arrestable offenses on campus before the Florida school shooting, Nikolas Cruz was able to escape the attention of law enforcement, pass a background check and purchase the weapon he used to slaughter three staff members and 14 fellow students because of Obama administration efforts to make school discipline more lenient. Do***ents reviewed by RealClearInvestigations and interviews show that his school district in Florida’s Broward County was in the vanguard of a strategy, adopted by more than 50 other major school districts nationwide, allowing thousands of troubled, often violent, students to commit crimes without legal consequence. The aim was to slow the "school-to-prison pipeline." “He had a clean record, so alarm bells didn’t go off when they looked him up in the system,” veteran FBI agent Michael Biasello told RCI. “He probably wouldn’t have been able to buy the murder weapon if the school had referred him to law enforcement." Disclosures about the strategy add a central new element to the Parkland shooting story: It's not just one of official failings at many levels and of America's deep divide over guns, but also one of deliberate federal policy gone awry. Superintendent Robert W. Runcie. Amy Beth Bennett /South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP In 2013, the year before Cruz entered high school, the Broward County school system scrapped and rewrote its discipline policy to make it much more difficult for administrators to suspend or expel problem students, or for campus police to arrest them for misdemeanors– including some of the crimes Cruz allegedly committed in the years and months leading up to the deadly Feb. 14 shooting at his Fort Lauderdale-area school. To keep students in school and improve racial outcomes, Broward school Superintendent Robert W. Runcie – a Chicagoan and Harvard graduate with close ties to President Obama and his Education Department – signed an agreement with the county sheriff and other local jurisdictions to trade cops for counseling. Instead of the criminal justice system, students charged with various misdemeanors, including assault, were referred to counseling, which included participation in “healing circles,” obstacle courses and other “self-esteem building” exercises. Asserting that minority students, in particular, were treated unfairly by traditional approaches to school discipline, Runcie’s goal was to slash arrests and ensure that students, no matter how delinquent, graduated without criminal records. “The [achievement] gap becomes intensified in the school-to-prison pipeline, where black males are disproportionately represented,” he said at the time. “We’re not going to continue to arrest our kids,” he added. “Once you have an arrest record, it becomes difficult to get scholarships, get a job, or go into the military." Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel backed Runcie’s plan to diminish the authority of police in responding to campus crime. A November 2013 video shows him readily signing the district’s 16-page "collaborative agreement on school discipline,” which lists more than a dozen misdemeanors that can no longer be reported to police, along with five steps police must “exhaust” before even considering placing a student under arrest. In just a few years, ethnically diverse Broward went from leading the state of Florida in student arrests to boasting one of its lowest school-related incarceration rates. Out-of-school suspensions and expulsions also plummeted. Runcie had been working closely with Obama Education Secretary Arne Duncan to radically reform school discipline policies, ever since landing the Broward job in 2011, using as a reference the name of the Cabinet secretary, his former boss in the Chicago school system. Applications for federal grants reveal that Runcie’s plan factored into approval of tens of millions of dollars in federal funding from Duncan's department. In January 2014, his department issued new discipline guidelines strongly recommending that schools use law enforcement measures and out-of-school suspensions as a last resort. Announced jointly by Duncan and then-Attorney General Eric Holder, the new procedures came as more than friendly guidance from Uncle Sam – they also came with threats of federal investigations and defunding for districts that refused to fully comply. In 2015, the White House spotlighted Runcie's leading role in the effort during a summit called “Rethink School Discipline." Broward, the nation’s sixth largest school district, is one of 53 major districts across the country to adopt the federal guidelines, which remain in effect today due to administrative rules delaying a plan by the T*** administration to withdraw them. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ office did not return phone calls and emails seeking comment. DeVos has called for congressional hearings on school shootings. “We have got to have an honest conversation,” she said. President Obama with his first Education Secretary, Arne Duncan. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik "Broward County adopted a lenient disciplinary policy similar to those adopted by many other districts under pressure from the Obama administration to reduce racial ‘disparities’ in suspensions and expulsions,” said Peter Kirsanow, a black conservative on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in Washington. "In many of these districts, the drive to 'get our numbers right' has produced disastrous results, with startling increases in both the number and severity of disciplinary offenses, including assaults and beatings of teachers and students.” Yet this approach has produced problematic results. In St. Paul, Minn., a high school science teacher was “beaten and choked out” by a 16-year-old student, who allegedly came up behind him, called him a “f--king white cracker,” and put him in a stranglehold, before bashing his head into a concrete wall and pavement. The student, Fon’Tae O’Bannon, got 90 days of electronic home monitoring and anger management counseling for the December 2015 attack. The instructor, John Ekblad, who has experienced short-term memory loss and hearing problems, blames the Obama-era discipline policies for emboldening criminal behavior, adding that school violence “is still rising out of control.” In Oklahoma City, which softened student punishments in response to a federal race-bias complaint, “students are yelling, cursing, hitting and screaming at teachers, and nothing is being done,” an Oklahoma City public school teacher said. “These students know there is nothing a teacher can do.” In Buffalo, New York, a teacher who got kicked in the head by a student said: “We have fights here almost every day. The kids walk around and say, ‘We can’t get suspended – we don’t care what you say.’ ” Kirsanow said that in just the first year after the Obama administration issued its anti-discipline edict, public schools failed to expel more than 30,000 students who physically attacked teachers or staff across the country. Previously, “if you hit a teach, you’re gone,” he said, but that is no longer the case. Broward Sheriff Scott Israel faces off with Dana Loesch of the NRA during a CNN town hall meeting Feb. 21. Michael Laughlin/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP No district has taken this new approach further than Broward County. The core of the approach is a program called PROMISE (Preventing Recidivism through Opportunities, Mentoring, Interventions, Support & Education), which substitutes counseling for criminal detention for students who break the law. According to the district website, the program is “designed to address the unique needs of students who have committed a behavioral infraction that would normally lead to a juvenile delinquency arrest and, therefore, entry into the juvenile justice system.” The expressed goal of PROMISE is to bring about “reductions in external suspension, expulsions and arrests.” Delinquents who are diverted to the program are essentially absolved of responsibility for their actions. “This approach focuses on the situation as being the problem rather than the individual being the problem,” the website states. Additional literature reveals that students referred to PROMISE for in-school misdemeanors – including assault, theft, vandalism, underage drinking and drug use – receive a controversial alternative punishment known as restorative justice. “Rather than focusing on punishment, restorative justice seeks to repair the harm done,” the district explains. Indeed, it isn’t really punishment at all. It’s more like therapy. Delinquents gather in “healing circles” with counselors, and sometimes even the victims of their crime, and talk about their feelings and "root causes" of their anger. Students who participate in the sessions and respond appropriately to difficult situations are rewarded by counselors with prizes called “choice rewards,” which they select in advance. Parents are asked to chip in money to help pay for the rewards. Listed among the district’s “restorative justice partners” is the Broward Sheriff’s Office. Deputies and local police officers, as well as court officials, routinely attend meetings with PROMISE leaders, where they receive training in such emotional support programs. The program also includes a separate juvenile “system of care,” rather than the regular court system, where delinquents and parents are counseled about the consequences of getting caught up in the criminal system. Broward's launch of the new initiative synced up with a discipline policy shift advocated by the Justice Department. “A routine school disciplinary infraction should land a student in the principal’s office, not in a police precinct,” asserted Holder in January 2014. At a press conference in 2015, Duncan described his “good friend” Runcie as courageous for implementing a “new system” to "keep kids in classrooms and out of courtrooms." “It’s difficult work,” the then-education secretary said, “challenging centuries of institutionalized racism and class inequality.” Duncan noted that Runcie had partnered with a psychology professor named Phillip Goff, who has been working with both Broward educators and police officers to become more aware of their “implicit biases” toward minority children. “Implicit bias exists in all of us,” Runcie said in late 2016, "and we have to be courageous enough to confront it if we are going to meet our goals.” District records reveal Runcie has been putting school leaders and school support personnel through intensive training in “implicit bias, black male success strategies [and] Courageous Conservations about Race." In calling for weaker discipline standards, the Obama administration blamed previous decades' zero-tolerance policies against gangs and drugs in schools for disproportionately increasing the number of arrests, suspensions and expulsions of black and Hispanic students. It charged that racially biased teachers and administrators were meting out harsher punishments for minorities. Nikolas Cruz’s rampage suggests the limits of this approach. A repeat offender, Cruz benefited from the lax discipline policy, if not the counseling. Although he was disciplined for a string of offenses -- including assault, threatening teachers and carrying bullets in his backpack -- he was never taken into custody or even expelled. Instead, school authorities referred him to mandatory counseling or transferred him to alternative schools. By avoiding a criminal record, Cruz passed a federal background check in February 2017 before purchasing the AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle investigators say was used in the mass shooting. Just one month earlier, he was disciplined with a one-day internal suspension for an “assault” at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and evaluated as a potential “threat." It was his second offense for fighting in less than four months, but campus police did not make an arrest in either case -- as they typically did for repeat offenders under the district’s prior zero-tolerance policies, a review of the official “discipline matrix” used last decade reveals. The upshot was that the lack of an arrest record made it difficult for police to confirm that Cruz was a proven threat and to intervene when they received call-in tips and complaints from neighbors, classmates and relatives about his stockpiling of weapons and desire to kill people, law enforcement officials say. A little more than a month before the Feb. 14 shooting, the FBI hotline received a tip about Cruz being a potential school gunman, but it failed to take action. If he had been previously arrested and booked for the on-campus misdemeanors, the FBI intake specialist handling the call would have seen his violent history in the federal NCIC database, which includes all state arrests, convictions, warrants and alerts. “Once the agent, or any officer, entered his name in the NCIC system, his history would have been viewed,” Biasello said. Though he said the call was “specific and urgent” enough to pass the information on to the bureau’s Miami field office, “the message might have been taken more seriously and escalated up the chain of command if the search turned up a police record." Another tip from last September, warning the FBI that a "Nikolas Cruz" had boasted on YouTube he was “going to be a professional school shooter,” also fell through the cracks due to a paucity of information in the system. A spokesman for the Miami division explained that “the FBI conducted database reviews [and] checks but was unable to further identify the person who actually made the comment.” The Broward County Sheriff’s Office received at least 45 calls related to Cruz and his brother dating back to 2008 – including a February 2016 call from a neighbor warning he made a threat on Instagram to "shoot up" the high school, and another last November advising he was collecting guns and knives and appeared to be "a school shooter in the making." Though deputies visited Cruz at his home, they did not try to recover his weapons, despite requests from relatives who feared he planned to use them on his classmates. Mourning Parkland. AP Photo/Brynn Anderson Their inaction reflects the Broward department’s embrace of the school district’s approach to student crime. Even in response to a major crime scene, Sheriff Israel agreed to defer to school officials when “feasible” and employ “the least punitive means of discipline” against the perpetrators. The Broward school board also revised agreements between the district and the school resource officers assigned by the sheriff to ensure that they no longer intervene in misdemeanor incidents to cut down on the number of “arrests for school-based behavior.” (The board also signed an agreement with Fort Lauderdale police to reduce officer involvement in such campus offenses.) At the 2013 signing ceremony on school discipline, Sheriff Israel lauded the new goals. He vowed to “demolish” the pipeline allegedly funneling students to jail by changing the “culture" of school-related law enforcement. “We’ve got to demolish this cycle from the schoolhouse to the jailhouse,” he said, echoing Runcie, who stood behind him. “Our kids need to be in schools, not jails.” Added Israel: “At the Broward Sheriff’s Office, we’re changing. We’re changing the culture, and what we’re doing is we are gonna make obsolete the term ‘zero tolerance.’" Yet even though Broward’s crusade has resulted in a more than 63 percent reduction in the annual rate of overall student arrests, Runcie has said he is not satisfied because the percentage of arrests of black students continues to be disproportionately high compared with whites. So the superintendent has hired Goff, the racial bias expert, to conduct a study to get to the “root cause” of why arrests of blacks are still so stubbornly high. Funded with an $800,000 grant, Goff’s researchers from the Center for Policing Equity in New York have been actively surveying district administrators and teachers, as well as student resource officers, to gauge their “implicit biases” in dealing with minority students who behave badly. That effort continues, a spokesman for Goff told RealClearInvestigations this week. Asked to comment about the Broward school policies, Tracy Clark, the district's chief public information officer, issued this statement: "There are specific guidelines and School Board policies regarding the non-violent, misdemeanor types of infractions that are eligible for the PROMISE program. Please note that weapons infractions are not eligible for the PROMISE program. Through the PROMISE program, students receive behavioral supports, counseling and mentoring in an environment focused on helping them make better choices.” However, a 210-page district report on “Eliminating the School to Prison Pipeline,” lists “assault/threat” and “fighting,” as well as “vandalism,” among “infractions aligned with participation in the PROMISE program," and it states that the recommended consequences for such misdemeanors are a “student essay," “counseling” and “restorative justice." And the district’s legally written discipline policy also lists “assault without the use of a weapon” and “battery without serious bodily injury,” as well as “disorderly conduct,” as misdemeanors that "should not be reported to Law Enforcement Agencies or Broward District Schools Police.” This do***ent also recommends “counseling” and “restorative justice." https://www.realclearinvestigations.com/articles/2018/02/28/obama_administration_school_discipline_policy_and_the_parkland_shooting.html

When School-Discipline ‘Reform’ Makes Schools Less Safe (part 1) By FREDERICK M. HESS December 15, 2017 9:00 AM Progressive education experts don’t seem to care that the policies they advocate are hurting the students who need the most help. Last week, a new ***ysis of Philadelphia public schools found that the district’s move to reform school discipline by embracing “restorative justice” had led to a raft of unfortunate results. The decision to eliminate suspensions for classroom “conduct” led to skyrocketing truancy, serious misbehavior, and declining achievement. Truancy had been steadily declining, but increased sharply after the new policy was adopted. Compared with other Pennsylvania school districts and after controlling for demographics, the district’s math and reading achievement declined substantially after the adoption of the new policy. And, ironically, students were actually suspended more often, because even as suspensions for minor offenses fell, suspensions for major offenses rose. The progressive education wonks who championed Philadelphia’s school-discipline reforms were remarkably unbothered by these alarming results. They didn’t even really challenge the data. Instead, they asserted that the reforms could work and should work. Education Week ran a story titled, “In Discipline Debate, Two Groups Draw Different Conclusions About the Same District.” See, a second group of researchers, from the University of Pennsylvania, had taken a qualitative look at Philadelphia’s schools. The takeaway there for EdWeek readers was that it is “possible for the district to see improvements” because the disciplinary changes showed hints of promise in schools that were “wealthier and more white.” That’s cold comfort, of course, given that the policy made things worse in the city’s poorer, less white schools — the struggling ones it was intended to help. Such tales are painfully familiar to those who track the world of school reform. There’s a rhythm to it: Progressive reformers have an idea that they think should work; the idea doesn’t work; reformers claim to see hints of promise and explain that the problem is one merely of “implementation” . . . and then the cycle repeats. Meanwhile, teachers and parents are left to pick up the pieces. Consider the Common Core. Reformers were alarmed that state standards weren’t high enough. So they cheered as the Obama administration bribed and coerced states to adopt new, “higher” standards. Parents complained, but reformers dismissed their assorted complaints as a combination of know-nothingism and fringe kookery. When a report found that 85 percent of K–8 teachers thought the Common Core harmed parents’ ability to help their kids with math because they could no longer understand the assignments, reformers yawned. When the dust settled, nationwide achievement had broadly declined for the first time in years, but reformers saw hints of promise — and explained that the problems were simply a matter of implementation. After all, they said, high standards are important. Consider teacher evaluation. Reformers were alarmed that old systems rated 99 percent of teachers as effective. So the Obama Department of Education bribed and coerced states to adopt new evaluation frameworks tied to tests teachers had never seen. Teachers complained, but reformers dismissed their concerns as know-nothingism and self-interested carping. When the dust settled, teachers had had to dance through new, time-consuming, bureaucratic paper chases — and 98 percent of them were still rated effective. Reformers acknowledged the results were disappointing, but explained the problems were nothing that couldn’t be cured by better implementation. After all, they said, teacher evaluation is important. The same story is playing out now with concern to discipline reform, except that this time the lackluster results are actually dangerous. In New York City, a majority of students at half of schools serving a high share of minority students said they saw more fights and that their peers were less respectful. In Chicago, peer respect deteriorated and teachers reported more disruptive behavior. In St. Paul, the district attorney declared school violence a “public-health crisis.” In Syracuse, the district attorney ordered a restoration of discipline after violence surged and a teacher was stabbed. In East Baton Rouge, 60 percent of teachers say they’ve experienced an increase in violence or threats, and 41 percent say they don’t feel safe in school. When School-Discipline ‘Reform’ Makes Schools Less Safe (part 2) By FREDERICK M. HESS December 15, 2017 9:00 AM Don’t expect progressive reformers to heed these warnings. Indeed, they seem more inclined to attack those who raise concerns than to step back from misguided policies. Don’t expect progressive reformers to heed these warnings. Indeed, they seem more inclined to attack those who raise concerns than to step back from misguided policies. It’s far easier to take to Twitter and insinuate that those who are concerned about the practical consequences of lax discipline policies “sound kinda racist.” After all, they say, reducing suspensions is important. The thing about schooling is that it is a profoundly human enterprise, which means it is inextricably contextual. Local realities matter, a lot. This means that whether and how reforms work is less a matter of how they look on a whiteboard or in a PowerPoint than of how they are put into practice by teachers, administrators, and parents. A bold scheme often sounds nice in theory, but ***led reforms can easily prove worse than no reform at all. This lesson should be painfully self-evident after so many humbling experiences, even if it continues to elude so many of the nation’s most self-assured education reformers. https://www.nationalreview.com/2017/12/progressive-school-discipline-reform-hurting-students-parents/

Pennsylvania’s State Department In Hot Water Over Massive Illegal Voting Scandal Published on February 28, 2018 The Pennsylvania State Department is facing a lawsuit after officials refused to release records relating to noncitizens on voter rolls in the commonwealth. An ***ysis found that there are allegedly more than 100,000 noncitizens that are currently registered to vote, according to a Philadelphia official’s testimony before a Pennsylvania government committee last year. The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), an election integrity group, initially threatened the lawsuit against Pennsylvania’s State Department in December after officials in the state were unresponsive to PILF’s requests to inspect the data relating to noncitizens on the state’s rolls. PILF filed the complaint Monday afternoon in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania seeking ***ctive relief to compel Pennsylvania’s State Department to allow the group access to the information. Read more at The Washington Free Beacon https://winningamericanow.com/2018/02/28/pennsylvanias-state-department-in-hot-water-over-massive-illegal-voting-scandal/

Incompetence Wasn't the Problem in Broward County (page 1) By Jack Cashill 2-26-18 No one who follows the blogging collective known as the "Conservative Treehouse" will dispute my claim that its most prominent blogger, "Sundance" by name, is America's best reporter. I got to know Sundance doing research for my book on the Trayvon Martin shooting, If I Had a Son. So instrumental was the research of Sundance and his colleagues that I made the "Treepers" the protagonists of the book. Sundance's research into the political dynamics of Martin's Miami-Dade school system led him to expand his research into neighboring Broward County years before the Parkland shooting. We communicated the day after that shooting. We had a shared sense of what had gone wrong. I detailed some of this last week in an article on what one public interest magazine called the "Broward County solution." In Broward County, they call it more modestly the "PROMISE Program." In November 2013, Sundance first reported that Broward County was "willing to jump on the diversionary bandwagon." As an attached Associated Press article noted, "One of the nation's largest school districts has reached an agreement with law enforcement agencies and the NAACP to reduce the number of students being charged with crimes for minor offenses." The goal, as the article explained, was to create an alternative to the zero-tolerance policies then in place by giving principals, not law enforcement, the authority to determine the nature of the offense. In a collaborative agreement among school officials and law enforcement, the presence of the NAACP might seem anomalous, but not in the Obama era, where considerations of race routinely shaped educational policy. "One of the first things I saw was a huge differential in minority students, black male students in particular, in terms of suspensions and arrests," Broward's recently hired school superintendent, Robert Runcie, told the American Prospect. A black American, Runcie assumed that the differential was due largely to some unspoken institutional bias against minorities. As he saw it, these suspensions played a major role in the so-called "achievement gap" between white and minority students. The first two "whereas" clauses in the collaborative agreement deal with opportunities for students in general, but the third speaks to the motivating issue behind the agreement: "Whereas, across the country, students of color, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ students are disproportionately impacted by school-based arrests for the same behavior as their peers." The spurious "same behavior" insinuation would put the onus on law enforcement to treat black students more gingerly than they would non-blacks. To make the issue seem less stark, authorities cloaked the black American crime disparity with EEOC boilerplate about "students of color" and other presumably marginalized individuals. Although nonsensical on the face of it – one is hard pressed to recall a crime spree by the disabled – this language opened the door for Nikolas de Jesus Cruz. An adopted son of the late Roger and Linda Cruz, the future school shooter had a name that fit the "metrics" of the collaborative agreement, regardless of his DNA. It is not hard to understand why Broward County officials would be eager to adopt this program. Miami-Dade had been receiving all kinds of honors for its efforts to shut down the dread "school-to-prison" pipeline. On February 15, 2012, Miami-Dade County Public Schools put out a press release citing a commendation the Miami-Dade Schools Police (M-DSPD) had recently received. The Department of Juvenile Justice had singled out Miami-Dade for "dramatically decreasing" school-related "delinquency." Said M-DSPD Chief Charles Hurley, "Our mantra is education not incarceration." Seventeen-year-old Miami-Dade student Trayvon Martin got neither incarceration nor education. Eleven days after this self-congratulatory press release, Martin was shot and killed in Sanford, Florida, 250 miles from his Miami home. For all the attention paid to the case, the media have refused to report why Martin was left to wander the streets of Sanford, high and alone on a Sunday night during a school week. Incompetence Wasn't the Problem in Broward County (page 2) By Jack Cashill 2-26-18 Sundance, who lives in South Florida, broke this story through old-fashioned gumshoe reporting. He writes, "Over time the policy [in Miami-Dade] began to create outcomes where illegal behavior by students was essentially unchecked by law enforcement." Sundance was alerted to the problem during the investigation into Martin's death when six M-DSPD officers blew the whistle on their superiors, the most notable of them being Chief Hurley. The whistleblowers told of cases of burglary and robbery where officers had to hide the recovered evidence in order to avoid writing up the students for criminal behavior. "At first I didn't believe them," writes Sundance of the whistleblowers. "However, after getting information from detectives, cross referencing police reports, and looking at the 'found merchandise' I realized they were telling the truth." One of those incidents involved Martin. Caught with a dozen pieces of stolen female jewelry and a burglary tool, Martin had his offense written off as entering an unauthorized area and writing graffiti on a locker. There could be no effort made to track the jewelry to its rightful owner, lest Martin's apprehension be elevated to the level of a crime. Instead, Martin was suspended, one of three suspensions that school year. When George Zimmerman saw him that night in the rain, Martin, now on his third suspension, was looking in windows of the complex's apartments. Zimmerman thought he was casing them. Given his history, Martin probably was. Zimmerman dialed the police. The rest is history – or, more accurately, would have been history if the media had reported Martin's brutal assault on Zimmerman honestly, but they almost universally refused to do so. Broward County launched its "education not incarceration" experiment four months after Zimmerman was rightfully found not guilty in the Martin case. By this time, Sundance and his fellow Treepers had exposed the corruption that Miami-Dade's seemingly enlightened policy had wrought within its school police department. Given the mainstream media's failure to follow up on Sundance's work, even in Florida, it is likely that Broward officials did not know how deeply the policy had compromised police work in Miami-Dade. What Broward County authorities did know is that the best "school resource officers," the euphemism for in-school sheriff's deputies, were those most sensitive to the objectives of the PROMISE program. It is hardly shocking that in 2014, the now notorious Scot Peterson was named School Resource Officer of the Year by the Broward County Crime Commission for handling issues "with tact and judgment." The motto of that crime commission? "Evil triumphs when good people stand idly by." Yikes! Peterson, the commission noted, was also "active in mentoring and counseling students." It appears that Nikolas Cruz got counseled a lot. Better to educate him, after all, than incarcerate him. Although there are many details still to be known, the Miami Herald reported on Friday that, in November 2017, a tipster called the Broward Sheriff's Office (BSO) to say Cruz "'could be a school shooter in the making,' but deputies did not write up a report on that warning." The Herald added that this tip came just weeks after a relative called urging BSO to seize his weapons. Two years prior, "A deputy investigated a report that Cruz 'planned to shoot up the school' – intelligence that was forwarded to the school's resource officer, with no apparent result." That school resource officer just happened to be Scot Peterson. He did not err by letting this misunderstood Hispanic lad go unpunished in any meaningful way. Peterson showed his award-winning "tact and judgment." He had to understand that to keep the PROMISE momentum going, the school would have to see fewer and fewer arrests each year. This meant excusing worse and worse offenses, especially for students who counted as minorities. As for the qualities real cops are expected to show – courage under fire comes to mind – those were obviously not Peterson's strong suit. "The school resource officer was behind a stairwell wall just standing there, and he had his gun drawn. And he was just pointing it at the building," said student Brandon Huff of Peterson. "And you could – shots started going off inside. You could hear them going off over and over." In a surprisingly tough interview with Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, CNN's Jake Tapper cited the 23 incidents before the shooting that involved Cruz and questioned whether the PROMISE program might have been responsible for the inaction by the sheriff's office. "It's helping many, many people," said Israel in defense of the program. "What this program does is not put a person at 14, 15, 16 years old into the criminal justice system." Incompetence Wasn't the Problem in Broward County (page 3) By Jack Cashill 2-26-18 Said Tapper, "What if he should be in the criminal justice system? What if he does something violent to a student? What if he takes bullets to school? What if he takes knives to schools? What if he threatens the lives of fellow students?" As solid as these questions are, if CNN had raised comparable questions after the death of Trayvon Martin, 17 Parkland students might still be alive. Says Sundance in conclusion, "I will give testimony, provide names, outline dates, and give all prior records to any lawyer for use in a wrongful death lawsuit – so long as their intent would be to financially ruin the entire system and personally bankrupt the participants." No one who follows the blogging collective known as the "Conservative Treehouse" will dispute my claim that its most prominent blogger, "Sundance" by name, is America's best reporter. I got to know Sundance doing research for my book on the Trayvon Martin shooting, If I Had a Son. So instrumental was the research of Sundance and his colleagues that I made the "Treepers" the protagonists of the book. Sundance's research into the political dynamics of Martin's Miami-Dade school system led him to expand his research into neighboring Broward County years before the Parkland shooting. We communicated the day after that shooting. We had a shared sense of what had gone wrong. I detailed some of this last week in an article on what one public interest magazine called the "Broward County solution." In Broward County, they call it more modestly the "PROMISE Program." In November 2013, Sundance first reported that Broward County was "willing to jump on the diversionary bandwagon." As an attached Associated Press article noted, "One of the nation's largest school districts has reached an agreement with law enforcement agencies and the NAACP to reduce the number of students being charged with crimes for minor offenses." The goal, as the article explained, was to create an alternative to the zero-tolerance policies then in place by giving principals, not law enforcement, the authority to determine the nature of the offense. In a collaborative agreement among school officials and law enforcement, the presence of the NAACP might seem anomalous, but not in the Obama era, where considerations of race routinely shaped educational policy. "One of the first things I saw was a huge differential in minority students, black male students in particular, in terms of suspensions and arrests," Broward's recently hired school superintendent, Robert Runcie, told the American Prospect. A black American, Runcie assumed that the differential was due largely to some unspoken institutional bias against minorities. As he saw it, these suspensions played a major role in the so-called "achievement gap" between white and minority students. The first two "whereas" clauses in the collaborative agreement deal with opportunities for students in general, but the third speaks to the motivating issue behind the agreement: "Whereas, across the country, students of color, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ students are disproportionately impacted by school-based arrests for the same behavior as their peers." The spurious "same behavior" insinuation would put the onus on law enforcement to treat black students more gingerly than they would non-blacks. To make the issue seem less stark, authorities cloaked the black American crime disparity with EEOC boilerplate about "students of color" and other presumably marginalized individuals. Although nonsensical on the face of it – one is hard pressed to recall a crime spree by the disabled – this language opened the door for Nikolas de Jesus Cruz. An adopted son of the late Roger and Linda Cruz, the future school shooter had a name that fit the "metrics" of the collaborative agreement, regardless of his DNA. It is not hard to understand why Broward County officials would be eager to adopt this program. Miami-Dade had been receiving all kinds of honors for its efforts to shut down the dread "school-to-prison" pipeline. On February 15, 2012, Miami-Dade County Public Schools put out a press release citing a commendation the Miami-Dade Schools Police (M-DSPD) had recently received. The Department of Juvenile Justice had singled out Miami-Dade for "dramatically decreasing" school-related "delinquency." Said M-DSPD Chief Charles Hurley, "Our mantra is education not incarceration." Seventeen-year-old Miami-Dade student Trayvon Martin got neither incarceration nor education. Eleven days after this self-congratulatory press release, Martin was shot and killed in Sanford, Florida, 250 miles from his Miami home. For all the attention paid to the case, the media have refused to report why Martin was left to wander the streets of Sanford, high and alone on a Sunday night during a school week. Incompetence Wasn't the Problem in Broward County (page4) By Jack Cashill 2-26-18 Sundance, who lives in South Florida, broke this story through old-fashioned gumshoe reporting. He writes, "Over time the policy [in Miami-Dade] began to create outcomes where illegal behavior by students was essentially unchecked by law enforcement." Sundance was alerted to the problem during the investigation into Martin's death when six M-DSPD officers blew the whistle on their superiors, the most notable of them being Chief Hurley. The whistleblowers told of cases of burglary and robbery where officers had to hide the recovered evidence in order to avoid writing up the students for criminal behavior. "At first I didn't believe them," writes Sundance of the whistleblowers. "However, after getting information from detectives, cross referencing police reports, and looking at the 'found merchandise' I realized they were telling the truth." One of those incidents involved Martin. Caught with a dozen pieces of stolen female jewelry and a burglary tool, Martin had his offense written off as entering an unauthorized area and writing graffiti on a locker. There could be no effort made to track the jewelry to its rightful owner, lest Martin's apprehension be elevated to the level of a crime. Instead, Martin was suspended, one of three suspensions that school year. When George Zimmerman saw him that night in the rain, Martin, now on his third suspension, was looking in windows of the complex's apartments. Zimmerman thought he was casing them. Given his history, Martin probably was. Zimmerman dialed the police. The rest is history – or, more accurately, would have been history if the media had reported Martin's brutal assault on Zimmerman honestly, but they almost universally refused to do so. Broward County launched its "education not incarceration" experiment four months after Zimmerman was rightfully found not guilty in the Martin case. By this time, Sundance and his fellow Treepers had exposed the corruption that Miami-Dade's seemingly enlightened policy had wrought within its school police department. Given the mainstream media's failure to follow up on Sundance's work, even in Florida, it is likely that Broward officials did not know how deeply the policy had compromised police work in Miami-Dade. What Broward County authorities did know is that the best "school resource officers," the euphemism for in-school sheriff's deputies, were those most sensitive to the objectives of the PROMISE program. It is hardly shocking that in 2014, the now notorious Scot Peterson was named School Resource Officer of the Year by the Broward County Crime Commission for handling issues "with tact and judgment." The motto of that crime commission? "Evil triumphs when good people stand idly by." Yikes! Peterson, the commission noted, was also "active in mentoring and counseling students." It appears that Nikolas Cruz got counseled a lot. Better to educate him, after all, than incarcerate him. Although there are many details still to be known, the Miami Herald reported on Friday that, in November 2017, a tipster called the Broward Sheriff's Office (BSO) to say Cruz "'could be a school shooter in the making,' but deputies did not write up a report on that warning." The Herald added that this tip came just weeks after a relative called urging BSO to seize his weapons. Two years prior, "A deputy investigated a report that Cruz 'planned to shoot up the school' – intelligence that was forwarded to the school's resource officer, with no apparent result." That school resource officer just happened to be Scot Peterson. He did not err by letting this misunderstood Hispanic lad go unpunished in any meaningful way. Peterson showed his award-winning "tact and judgment." He had to understand that to keep the PROMISE momentum going, the school would have to see fewer and fewer arrests each year. This meant excusing worse and worse offenses, especially for students who counted as minorities. As for the qualities real cops are expected to show – courage under fire comes to mind – those were obviously not Peterson's strong suit. Incompetence Wasn't the Problem in Broward County (page5) By Jack Cashill 2-26-18 "The school resource officer was behind a stairwell wall just standing there, and he had his gun drawn. And he was just pointing it at the building," said student Brandon Huff of Peterson. "And you could – shots started going off inside. You could hear them going off over and over." In a surprisingly tough interview with Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, CNN's Jake Tapper cited the 23 incidents before the shooting that involved Cruz and questioned whether the PROMISE program might have been responsible for the inaction by the sheriff's office. "It's helping many, many people," said Israel in defense of the program. "What this program does is not put a person at 14, 15, 16 years old into the criminal justice system." Said Tapper, "What if he should be in the criminal justice system? What if he does something violent to a student? What if he takes bullets to school? What if he takes knives to schools? What if he threatens the lives of fellow students?" As solid as these questions are, if CNN had raised comparable questions after the death of Trayvon Martin, 17 Parkland students might still be alive. Says Sundance in conclusion, "I will give testimony, provide names, outline dates, and give all prior records to any lawyer for use in a wrongful death lawsuit – so long as their intent would be to financially ruin the entire system and personally bankrupt the participants." https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2018/02/incompetence_wasnt_the_problem_in_broward_county.html

Incompetence Wasn't the Problem in Broward County By Jack Cashill 2-26-18 No one who follows the blogging collective known as the "Conservative Treehouse" will dispute my claim that its most prominent blogger, "Sundance" by name, is America's best reporter. I got to know Sundance doing research for my book on the Trayvon Martin shooting, If I Had a Son. So instrumental was the research of Sundance and his colleagues that I made the "Treepers" the protagonists of the book. Sundance's research into the political dynamics of Martin's Miami-Dade school system led him to expand his research into neighboring Broward County years before the Parkland shooting. We communicated the day after that shooting. We had a shared sense of what had gone wrong. I detailed some of this last week in an article on what one public interest magazine called the "Broward County solution." In Broward County, they call it more modestly the "PROMISE Program." In November 2013, Sundance first reported that Broward County was "willing to jump on the diversionary bandwagon." As an attached Associated Press article noted, "One of the nation's largest school districts has reached an agreement with law enforcement agencies and the NAACP to reduce the number of students being charged with crimes for minor offenses." The goal, as the article explained, was to create an alternative to the zero-tolerance policies then in place by giving principals, not law enforcement, the authority to determine the nature of the offense. In a collaborative agreement among school officials and law enforcement, the presence of the NAACP might seem anomalous, but not in the Obama era, where considerations of race routinely shaped educational policy. "One of the first things I saw was a huge differential in minority students, black male students in particular, in terms of suspensions and arrests," Broward's recently hired school superintendent, Robert Runcie, told the American Prospect. A black American, Runcie assumed that the differential was due largely to some unspoken institutional bias against minorities. As he saw it, these suspensions played a major role in the so-called "achievement gap" between white and minority students. The first two "whereas" clauses in the collaborative agreement deal with opportunities for students in general, but the third speaks to the motivating issue behind the agreement: "Whereas, across the country, students of color, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ students are disproportionately impacted by school-based arrests for the same behavior as their peers." The spurious "same behavior" insinuation would put the onus on law enforcement to treat black students more gingerly than they would non-blacks. To make the issue seem less stark, authorities cloaked the black American crime disparity with EEOC boilerplate about "students of color" and other presumably marginalized individuals. Although nonsensical on the face of it – one is hard pressed to recall a crime spree by the disabled – this language opened the door for Nikolas de Jesus Cruz. An adopted son of the late Roger and Linda Cruz, the future school shooter had a name that fit the "metrics" of the collaborative agreement, regardless of his DNA. It is not hard to understand why Broward County officials would be eager to adopt this program. Miami-Dade had been receiving all kinds of honors for its efforts to shut down the dread "school-to-prison" pipeline. On February 15, 2012, Miami-Dade County Public Schools put out a press release citing a commendation the Miami-Dade Schools Police (M-DSPD) had recently received. The Department of Juvenile Justice had singled out Miami-Dade for "dramatically decreasing" school-related "delinquency." Said M-DSPD Chief Charles Hurley, "Our mantra is education not incarceration." Seventeen-year-old Miami-Dade student Trayvon Martin got neither incarceration nor education. Eleven days after this self-congratulatory press release, Martin was shot and killed in Sanford, Florida, 250 miles from his Miami home. For all the attention paid to the case, the media have refused to report why Martin was left to wander the streets of Sanford, high and alone on a Sunday night during a school week. Sundance, who lives in South Florida, broke this story through old-fashioned gumshoe reporting. He writes, "Over time the policy [in Miami-Dade] began to create outcomes where illegal behavior by students was essentially unchecked by law enforcement." Sundance was alerted to the problem during the investigation into Martin's death when six M-DSPD officers blew the whistle on their superiors, the most notable of them being Chief Hurley. The whistleblowers told of cases of burglary and robbery where officers had to hide the recovered evidence in order to avoid writing up the students for criminal behavior. "At first I didn't believe them," writes Sundance of the whistleblowers. "However, after getting information from detectives, cross referencing police reports, and looking at the 'found merchandise' I realized they were telling the truth." One of those incidents involved Martin. Caught with a dozen pieces of stolen female jewelry and a burglary tool, Martin had his offense written off as entering an unauthorized area and writing graffiti on a locker. There could be no effort made to track the jewelry to its rightful owner, lest Martin's apprehension be elevated to the level of a crime. Instead, Martin was suspended, one of three suspensions that school year. When George Zimmerman saw him that night in the rain, Martin, now on his third suspension, was looking in windows of the complex's apartments. Zimmerman thought he was casing them. Given his history, Martin probably was. Zimmerman dialed the police. The rest is history – or, more accurately, would have been history if the media had reported Martin's brutal assault on Zimmerman honestly, but they almost universally refused to do so. Broward County launched its "education not incarceration" experiment four months after Zimmerman was rightfully found not guilty in the Martin case. By this time, Sundance and his fellow Treepers had exposed the corruption that Miami-Dade's seemingly enlightened policy had wrought within its school police department. Given the mainstream media's failure to follow up on Sundance's work, even in Florida, it is likely that Broward officials did not know how deeply the policy had compromised police work in Miami-Dade. What Broward County authorities did know is that the best "school resource officers," the euphemism for in-school sheriff's deputies, were those most sensitive to the objectives of the PROMISE program. It is hardly shocking that in 2014, the now notorious Scot Peterson was named School Resource Officer of the Year by the Broward County Crime Commission for handling issues "with tact and judgment." The motto of that crime commission? "Evil triumphs when good people stand idly by." Yikes! Peterson, the commission noted, was also "active in mentoring and counseling students." It appears that Nikolas Cruz got counseled a lot. Better to educate him, after all, than incarcerate him. Although there are many details still to be known, the Miami Herald reported on Friday that, in November 2017, a tipster called the Broward Sheriff's Office (BSO) to say Cruz "'could be a school shooter in the making,' but deputies did not write up a report on that warning." The Herald added that this tip came just weeks after a relative called urging BSO to seize his weapons. Two years prior, "A deputy investigated a report that Cruz 'planned to shoot up the school' – intelligence that was forwarded to the school's resource officer, with no apparent result." That school resource officer just happened to be Scot Peterson. He did not err by letting this misunderstood Hispanic lad go unpunished in any meaningful way. Peterson showed his award-winning "tact and judgment." He had to understand that to keep the PROMISE momentum going, the school would have to see fewer and fewer arrests each year. This meant excusing worse and worse offenses, especially for students who counted as minorities. As for the qualities real cops are expected to show – courage under fire comes to mind – those were obviously not Peterson's strong suit. "The school resource officer was behind a stairwell wall just standing there, and he had his gun drawn. And he was just pointing it at the building," said student Brandon Huff of Peterson. "And you could – shots started going off inside. You could hear them going off over and over." In a surprisingly tough interview with Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, CNN's Jake Tapper cited the 23 incidents before the shooting that involved Cruz and questioned whether the PROMISE program might have been responsible for the inaction by the sheriff's office. "It's helping many, many people," said Israel in defense of the program. "What this program does is not put a person at 14, 15, 16 years old into the criminal justice system." Said Tapper, "What if he should be in the criminal justice system? What if he does something violent to a student? What if he takes bullets to school? What if he takes knives to schools? What if he threatens the lives of fellow students?" As solid as these questions are, if CNN had raised comparable questions after the death of Trayvon Martin, 17 Parkland students might still be alive. Says Sundance in conclusion, "I will give testimony, provide names, outline dates, and give all prior records to any lawyer for use in a wrongful death lawsuit – so long as their intent would be to financially ruin the entire system and personally bankrupt the participants." No one who follows the blogging collective known as the "Conservative Treehouse" will dispute my claim that its most prominent blogger, "Sundance" by name, is America's best reporter. I got to know Sundance doing research for my book on the Trayvon Martin shooting, If I Had a Son. So instrumental was the research of Sundance and his colleagues that I made the "Treepers" the protagonists of the book. Sundance's research into the political dynamics of Martin's Miami-Dade school system led him to expand his research into neighboring Broward County years before the Parkland shooting. We communicated the day after that shooting. We had a shared sense of what had gone wrong. I detailed some of this last week in an article on what one public interest magazine called the "Broward County solution." In Broward County, they call it more modestly the "PROMISE Program." In November 2013, Sundance first reported that Broward County was "willing to jump on the diversionary bandwagon." As an attached Associated Press article noted, "One of the nation's largest school districts has reached an agreement with law enforcement agencies and the NAACP to reduce the number of students being charged with crimes for minor offenses." The goal, as the article explained, was to create an alternative to the zero-tolerance policies then in place by giving principals, not law enforcement, the authority to determine the nature of the offense. In a collaborative agreement among school officials and law enforcement, the presence of the NAACP might seem anomalous, but not in the Obama era, where considerations of race routinely shaped educational policy. "One of the first things I saw was a huge differential in minority students, black male students in particular, in terms of suspensions and arrests," Broward's recently hired school superintendent, Robert Runcie, told the American Prospect. A black American, Runcie assumed that the differential was due largely to some unspoken institutional bias against minorities. As he saw it, these suspensions played a major role in the so-called "achievement gap" between white and minority students. The first two "whereas" clauses in the collaborative agreement deal with opportunities for students in general, but the third speaks to the motivating issue behind the agreement: "Whereas, across the country, students of color, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ students are disproportionately impacted by school-based arrests for the same behavior as their peers." The spurious "same behavior" insinuation would put the onus on law enforcement to treat black students more gingerly than they would non-blacks. To make the issue seem less stark, authorities cloaked the black American crime disparity with EEOC boilerplate about "students of color" and other presumably marginalized individuals. Although nonsensical on the face of it – one is hard pressed to recall a crime spree by the disabled – this language opened the door for Nikolas de Jesus Cruz. An adopted son of the late Roger and Linda Cruz, the future school shooter had a name that fit the "metrics" of the collaborative agreement, regardless of his DNA. It is not hard to understand why Broward County officials would be eager to adopt this program. Miami-Dade had been receiving all kinds of honors for its efforts to shut down the dread "school-to-prison" pipeline. On February 15, 2012, Miami-Dade County Public Schools put out a press release citing a commendation the Miami-Dade Schools Police (M-DSPD) had recently received. The Department of Juvenile Justice had singled out Miami-Dade for "dramatically decreasing" school-related "delinquency." Said M-DSPD Chief Charles Hurley, "Our mantra is education not incarceration." Seventeen-year-old Miami-Dade student Trayvon Martin got neither incarceration nor education. Eleven days after this self-congratulatory press release, Martin was shot and killed in Sanford, Florida, 250 miles from his Miami home. For all the attention paid to the case, the media have refused to report why Martin was left to wander the streets of Sanford, high and alone on a Sunday night during a school week. Sundance, who lives in South Florida, broke this story through old-fashioned gumshoe reporting. He writes, "Over time the policy [in Miami-Dade] began to create outcomes where illegal behavior by students was essentially unchecked by law enforcement." Sundance was alerted to the problem during the investigation into Martin's death when six M-DSPD officers blew the whistle on their superiors, the most notable of them being Chief Hurley. The whistleblowers told of cases of burglary and robbery where officers had to hide the recovered evidence in order to avoid writing up the students for criminal behavior. "At first I didn't believe them," writes Sundance of the whistleblowers. "However, after getting information from detectives, cross referencing police reports, and looking at the 'found merchandise' I realized they were telling the truth." One of those incidents involved Martin. Caught with a dozen pieces of stolen female jewelry and a burglary tool, Martin had his offense written off as entering an unauthorized area and writing graffiti on a locker. There could be no effort made to track the jewelry to its rightful owner, lest Martin's apprehension be elevated to the level of a crime. Instead, Martin was suspended, one of three suspensions that school year. When George Zimmerman saw him that night in the rain, Martin, now on his third suspension, was looking in windows of the complex's apartments. Zimmerman thought he was casing them. Given his history, Martin probably was. Zimmerman dialed the police. The rest is history – or, more accurately, would have been history if the media had reported Martin's brutal assault on Zimmerman honestly, but they almost universally refused to do so. Broward County launched its "education not incarceration" experiment four months after Zimmerman was rightfully found not guilty in the Martin case. By this time, Sundance and his fellow Treepers had exposed the corruption that Miami-Dade's seemingly enlightened policy had wrought within its school police department. Given the mainstream media's failure to follow up on Sundance's work, even in Florida, it is likely that Broward officials did not know how deeply the policy had compromised police work in Miami-Dade. What Broward County authorities did know is that the best "school resource officers," the euphemism for in-school sheriff's deputies, were those most sensitive to the objectives of the PROMISE program. It is hardly shocking that in 2014, the now notorious Scot Peterson was named School Resource Officer of the Year by the Broward County Crime Commission for handling issues "with tact and judgment." The motto of that crime commission? "Evil triumphs when good people stand idly by." Yikes! Peterson, the commission noted, was also "active in mentoring and counseling students." It appears that Nikolas Cruz got counseled a lot. Better to educate him, after all, than incarcerate him. Although there are many details still to be known, the Miami Herald reported on Friday that, in November 2017, a tipster called the Broward Sheriff's Office (BSO) to say Cruz "'could be a school shooter in the making,' but deputies did not write up a report on that warning." The Herald added that this tip came just weeks after a relative called urging BSO to seize his weapons. Two years prior, "A deputy investigated a report that Cruz 'planned to shoot up the school' – intelligence that was forwarded to the school's resource officer, with no apparent result." That school resource officer just happened to be Scot Peterson. He did not err by letting this misunderstood Hispanic lad go unpunished in any meaningful way. Peterson showed his award-winning "tact and judgment." He had to understand that to keep the PROMISE momentum going, the school would have to see fewer and fewer arrests each year. This meant excusing worse and worse offenses, especially for students who counted as minorities. As for the qualities real cops are expected to show – courage under fire comes to mind – those were obviously not Peterson's strong suit. "The school resource officer was behind a stairwell wall just standing there, and he had his gun drawn. And he was just pointing it at the building," said student Brandon Huff of Peterson. "And you could – shots started going off inside. You could hear them going off over and over." In a surprisingly tough interview with Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, CNN's Jake Tapper cited the 23 incidents before the shooting that involved Cruz and questioned whether the PROMISE program might have been responsible for the inaction by the sheriff's office. "It's helping many, many people," said Israel in defense of the program. "What this program does is not put a person at 14, 15, 16 years old into the criminal justice system." Said Tapper, "What if he should be in the criminal justice system? What if he does something violent to a student? What if he takes bullets to school? What if he takes knives to schools? What if he threatens the lives of fellow students?" As solid as these questions are, if CNN had raised comparable questions after the death of Trayvon Martin, 17 Parkland students might still be alive. Says Sundance in conclusion, "I will give testimony, provide names, outline dates, and give all prior records to any lawyer for use in a wrongful death lawsuit – so long as their intent would be to financially ruin the entire system and personally bankrupt the participants." https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2018/02/incompetence_wasnt_the_problem_in_broward_county.html

This federal program began with the flawed premise that a high percentage of minorities are in prison as a result of a racist criminal justice system. The American people will really be made when they learn that federal dollars were paid to local school districts that reduced the arrest statistics but not the crimes committed.

I read that Trayvon Martin was also in this program and he is another who slipped through the cracks of the system. Is this true?

yes it is true

How can you coddle the kids who show dangerous behavior, and thereby infringe on the rights of students there who want to study and get ahead? The 2 groups shouldn't be in the same school. If a student is not there to abide by the rules, and to learn...get him out. That's the way school was when I was younger...yes, many years ago. Bad behavior was not tolerated. Get young people help when it's apparently needed, but don't force the diligent, good students to put up with their crap, and be unsafe.

I wonder if this program is in Chicago

Robert Runcie is...how about that

at issue is the less obvious risk. By internally processing complaints, the school board failed in their responsibilities in the following manner. In the case of Mr. Cruz, as in the case of any troubled youth, any failure to report dangerous behavior allows the perpetrator to fy under the radar. No report of anti-social behavior allowed Mr. Cruz to purchase weapons. Although a history of assault, and cyber stalking would obviously deter him from getting weapons, the information, although available, was concealed from the public.. This, if examined, is behavior that is consistent with other incidents, in other areas, as well. Plug the loophole. Self created and synthetic crime rates do nothing more than conceal danger, and minimize responsibility for those who share in the carnage.

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