In the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, as members of the press and government officials were looking into the shooter’s past behavior for any warning signs or red flags, a controversial alternative school program called PROMISE was mentioned numerous times.
PROMISE (Preventing Recidivism through Opportunities, Mentoring, Interventions, Supports & Education) started in Miami-Dade County and was adopted by Broward in 2013. The Obama Department of Education heartily supported the program as part an effort to “stop the school to prison pipeline.” Programs to effectively address juvenile crime and reduce recidivism are necessary and laudable, but the key word here is “effectively.”
By most accounts – and much has been written about the program’s failures over the last six months – PROMISE has not effectively addressed juvenile crime or reduced recidivism. RedState’s Sarah Rumpf authored the most detailed take-down of the program. PROMISE reduced arrests, but it didn’t reduce crime.
Ryan Petty, father of Parkland victim Alaina Petty, has also written about the program’s failures and the District’s overall failures regarding crime on campus and school safety. (The Twitter thread should be read in its entirety.)
However stunning, the focus should not be on any specific program. It's the totality of District failures that must be addressed.
— Ryan Petty (@rpetty) May 7, 2018
Peter Kirsanow, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, said the motivation behind PROMISE and similar programs in other districts wasn’t what advocates claimed.
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. . . . 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.
But, back to Sen. Rubio and Broward officials. Rubio was used by Broward officials as a target for the public’s rage in the weeks after the shooting. He was vilified at the CNN town hall, booed, disrespected by a punk kid, and called a murderer. Despite the hate, Rubio sought the truth about what Nikolas Cruz’s past and his interactions with school officials and law enforcement officers in an attempt to see where there were failures and prevent them from occurring again.
And was lied to. Repeatedly. A school district and its officials had zero problem lying to a United States Senator to protect their program.
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
School officials also repeatedly lied to media outlets, such as WJCT:
“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.”
A Broward County Public Schools spokeswoman has since released a statement to SSN, saying “the District has no record of Nikolas Cruz committing a PROMISE-eligible infraction or being assigned the PROMISE while in high school.”
It turns out he was assigned to PROMISE while he was in middle school. Way to mince words.
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.
Now they’re still claiming that Cruz didn’t “attend” the program, so they didn’t lie. He didn’t attend because he didn’t want to, morons. And he faced no consequence for thumbing his nose at a program designed to help him get his life together.
If he had faced the consequence of actually being prosecuted for a crime since he didn’t want to take advantage of a diversion program, he would have had a criminal record and been unable to legally purchase the gun he used to slaughter his classmates. Perhaps Broward better examine the records of every student who’s been referred to PROMISE and see if there are others who have slipped through the cracks and need to be held accountable for their actions.