School shooter Nikolas Cruz was protected from arrest by Broward county school district officials thanks to a "controversial disciplinary program" designed to combat "systemic racism" by limiting arrests of minority students.
Broward county school district officials lied repeatedly for months by claiming otherwise.
Broward school district officials admitted Sunday that the confessed Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School gunman was assigned to a controversial disciplinary program, after the superintendent repeatedly claimed Nikolas Cruz had "no connection" to the alternative punishment designed to limit on-campus arrests.Not only did they shield him from arrest in the name of fighting racism, they didn't even force him to go to their worthless program.
Two sources with knowledge of Cruz’s discipline records told WLRN he was referred to the so-called PROMISE Program for a three-day stint after committing vandalism at Westglades Middle School in 2013.
When asked for a response, a spokeswoman for Superintendent Robert Runcie stated on Friday that district administrators were aggressively analyzing Cruz's records. Then Tracy Clark said on Sunday afternoon the district had "confirmed" Cruz's referral to PROMISE after he vandalized a bathroom at the middle school on Nov. 25, 2013.
However, it's unclear if Cruz ever attended the program.
Clark said he appeared at Pine Ridge Education Center in Fort Lauderdale — an alternative school facility where PROMISE is housed — for an intake interview the day after the vandalism incident.
But, she said, "It does not appear that Cruz completed the recommended three-day assignment/placement." She said she did not want to "speculate" as to why.
The Broward Sheriff's Office has also said Cruz didn't attend PROMISE.
“The school board reports that there was no PROMISE program participation,” BSO representative Jack Dale said during a recent meeting of a new state commission tasked with investigating the shooting.
The PROMISE program allows students who commit certain misdemeanors — there's an official list of 13 — at school to avoid getting involved with the criminal justice system. Instead, they attend the alternative school, where they receive counseling and other support.
Runcie and school board members remain steadfastly committed to PROMISE, which was designed to limit the “school to prison pipeline” at a time when more kids were getting arrested in Broward schools than any other district in the state. The administrators have worked to combat what they argue is a politically motivated attack based on “misinformation” and “fake news.” That just means they're letting them get away with every crime they commit.
In his defense of the program, Runcie has touted its high success rate in preventing recidivism: Nearly 9 out of 10 kids who go to PROMISE don’t commit another offense at school that would send them back there.
He has maintained there’s no link between PROMISE and the shooting, calling it “reprehensible” that people have tried to use the tragedy to target the program.All blatant lies. These officials have blood on their hands.
“Let me reiterate this point,” Runcie started off during an interview in his office last month. “Nikolas Cruz, the shooter that was involved in this horrific accident at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, had no connection to the PROMISE program.”
During the same conversation, Runcie said: “I’m not going to allow a shift from what our focus needs to be to a fictitious narrative that’s being made up about a successful program that we have in Broward County that has no connection to the shooter or the situation at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.”
WHAT IS PROMISE?The Florida legislature responded to the shooting not by ending this insane program and demanding Sheriff Scott Israel be held accountable, but by giving Israel's cowardly police more power and banning law abiding citizens from owning guns.
In the 2011-12 school year, more students were arrested at school, on the bus or at school-sponsored events in Broward County than any other district in Florida, according to a report from the state Department of Juvenile Justice. That year, there were 1,062 school-related arrests in Broward, nearly twice the number of arrests in larger Miami-Dade, which reported 552.
Nearly 70 percent of the arrests were for misdemeanor crimes, and there were instances of kids getting handcuffed for throwing spitballs, according to a Sun Sentinel report at the time. The district found that “zero tolerance” discipline policies were disproportionately affecting children who were black or disabled. Lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender students were also more likely to be arrested than their peers.
In part at the urging of civil rights groups, Runcie led an effort to reform the district’s discipline policies. Administrators partnered with a variety of entities involved with juvenile justice — including law enforcement, the state attorney’s office, Judge Elijah Williams of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit of Florida, the NAACP, and a county-based government agency that focuses on children’s affairs. The group consulted with another judge who had seen some success dealing with similar problems in Georgia.
The committee met for a year with the stated purpose of eliminating the “school to prison pipeline.” The result was PROMISE — an acronym that stands for Preventing Recidivism through Opportunities, Mentoring, Interventions, Supports and Education. It launched in 2013.
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