Late on Sunday night, local Florida media reported that Nikolas Cruz, the gunman who shot up Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February, was assigned to a highly controversial Obama-era disciplinary program. Previously, the Broward County Public Schools Superintendent denied the connection – repeatedly, in fact.
As WLRN reported:
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.
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.
The program, with its soft approach to discipline, obviously became controversial in the aftermath of the deadly attack:
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.
PROMISE has come under scrutiny after 17 people died in the Feb. 14 shooting at Stoneman Douglas, in part because one of the injured survivors is planning a lawsuit that will argue the program led school leaders to demonstrate a lax attitude toward discipline.
Superintendent Robert W. Runcie implemented the PROMISE Program in Broward County Public Schools in 2013, as part of the former Obama Administration’s effort to reduce the number of minority students who ended up in prison from crimes committed on campus.
Cruz 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 reported vandalism incident.
As Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) tweeted this morning, he was misled:
I was repeatedly told that the Parkland shooter was never in the Promise Program I was asking questions about. Now it turns out that in fact he was. https://t.co/q1JTbDXoU3
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 7, 2018
And students affected by the Parkland shooting reacted on Twitter:
.@RobertwRuncie another lie you told is exposed… The PROMISE program you implemented into our schools allowed 18-1958 to stay in the @browardschools. It cost 17 lives. Our school board is filled with compulsive liars. This must stop.#FIXIT https://t.co/9daF6CNoyw
— Hunter Pollack (@PollackHunter) May 7, 2018
— Kyle Kashuv (@KyleKashuv) May 7, 2018
Clearly, Runcie needs to go. His direct involvement in relaxing punishment for misdemeanors clearly doesn’t work. Students should be taught that when they commit crimes, serious punishment and repercussions will happen, even if they are not 18 years old.
What do you think about this bombshell report from Broward County Public Schools? Please leave us a comment (below) and tell us.