New evidence reveals that the 19-year-old male who confessed to shooting and killing 17 people at his former high school in Parkland, Florida in February had been referred to an Obama-era disciplinary initiative which was designed to limit arrests on school campuses, WRLN-FM reports.
Broward County Superintendent Robert Runcie has denied that the shooter had been placed in the PROMISE Program, an alternative punishment scheme in which students would be spared arrest for 13 defined misdemeanors if the crimes were committed on campus, instead being enrolled in an “intervention-based program designed to correct student behavior,” according to Broward County’s website.
Despite the superintendent’s denial, however, two sources told the radio station that the shooter “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 (the shooter’s) records,” WRLN reported late Sunday.
“Then Tracy Clark said on Sunday afternoon the district had ‘confirmed’ (the shooter’s) referral to PROMISE after he vandalized a bathroom at the middle school on Nov. 25, 2013.”
While he showed up for the intake interview just one day after the vandalism incident, Clark says that “(i)t does not appear that (the shooter) completed the recommended three-day assignment/placement.”
It was unclear whether he received any additional punishment for refusing to attend.
The PROMISE Program has come under attack numerous times since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, especially since a lawsuit by one of the injured Parkland survivors contends the diversionary initiative is proof the school didn’t take discipline seriously.
“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,” WRLN notes. “The administrators have worked to combat what they argue is a politically motivated attack based on ‘misinformation’ and ‘fake news.’”
That last one is somewhat ironic, considering the fact that Runcie has vigorously stood by the program.
As the Heritage Foundation notes, the shooter was accused of several other PROMISE-eligible infractions during his time in Broward County’s schools, including assault and an online threat to “shoot up the school” that was passed on to school officials by law enforcement.
WRLN reports things somewhat differently, saying that the shooter’s “high school discipline records, obtained by WLRN, show he got in trouble for fighting and verbal assault while at Stoneman Douglas — but those infractions didn’t meet the eligibility requirements for PROMISE. In both cases, he was suspended.”
“During the interview last month, Runcie said he couldn’t discuss details of (the shooter’s) school records because of a federal law that shields student privacy,” WRLN adds.
Yet, Runcie has insisted that “the District has no record of (the shooter) committing a PROMISE-eligible infraction or being assigned the PROMISE while in high school,” despite an apparently woeful behavioral record. This is to say nothing of the number of times police visited his house or the fact that he was considered such a threat by school officials that he was banned from carrying a backpack on campus.
There are 17 people dead and a list of people who want answers to questions that are going to get a lot more pointed. If Runcie is going to go to bat for the PROMISE Program, good luck. It looks like it could be yet another reason why so many red flags were consistently overlooked by everyone involved.
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