Broward Faculty Violence: Cruz’s Bloodbath Is Far From the Complete Story


Broward County, Fla., college officers painting as a terrific success their Obama administration-inspired program providing counseling to college students who break the regulation, as an alternative of getting them arrested or expelled. They insist that it performed no function in February’s college bloodbath by Nikolas Cruz. In addition they declare that actually juvenile recidivism charges are down and faculty security is up, because of this system.

The proof tells a far totally different story.

Broward County juvenile justice division data, federal research of Broward college district security and the district’s personal inside reporting present that years of “intensive” counseling didn’t simply fail to reform repeat offender Cruz, who allegedly went on to shoot and kill 17 folks at his highschool. Information present such insurance policies have didn’t curtail different campus violence and its results now on the rise in district colleges — together with combating, weapons use, bullying and associated suicides.

In the meantime, murders, armed robberies and different violent felonies dedicated by youngsters exterior of faculties have hit report ranges, and a few see a reference to what’s occurring on college grounds. For the reason that enjoyable of self-discipline, Broward youths haven’t solely overtly punched out their lecturers, however terrorized Broward neighborhoods with drive-by shootings, gang rapes, residence invasions and carjackings.

Broward County now has the very best proportion of “probably the most severe, violent [and] continual” juvenile offenders in Florida, in response to the county’s chief juvenile probation officer.

Earlier than the bloodbath at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Excessive Faculty in Parkland, this system’s most supportive neighborhood companion – the county sheriff’s workplace – privately fearful that school-based deputies have been overlooking more and more harmful threats. It warned that violent felons on probation have been getting “a number of probabilities to reoffend” underneath the college program and those that put their victims within the hospital after attacking them on college grounds escaped arrest by this system.

Broward Colleges Chief Public Data Officer Tracy Clark.

Broward Colleges Twitter

Information additionally present that Cruz was not the one active-shooter menace within the Broward college system. Since 2015, at the very least three different pupils have introduced loaded firearms into colleges and threatened to go on capturing sprees.

However, Broward colleges Chief Public Data Officer Tracy Clark denied the district’s reforms have weakened security. “In truth,” she stated, “our district’s total disciplinary incidents have dropped since we adopted the brand new coverage and wraparound helps to college students with habits points.”

District officers, nevertheless, declined to supply proof when introduced with opposite reporting by RealClearInvestigations.

The administration has stored a lid on such dangerous information by suppressing college security information, together with canceling annual surveys of scholar habits.

“Their program is a lie, and it doesn’t work,” stated Lowell Levine, a father with grown youngsters whose Cease Bullying Now Basis in Lake Value, Fla., has obtained a number of dozen complaints throughout the previous few years from mother and father whose youngsters have been repeatedly crushed and bullied by fellow Broward college students, who suffered few or no penalties.

Because of this, some mother and father have sued the college district for failing to guard their youngsters from violent assaults. At the very least one survivor of the Feb. 14 capturing is submitting a lawsuit citing the district’s lax self-discipline insurance policies.

Levine stated he alerted Broward Colleges Superintendent Robert Runcie’s workplace in regards to the flood of complaints concerning college violence in 2015, two years after its leniency program, referred to as PROMISE, was enforce. (PROMISE stands for Stopping Recidivism by Alternatives, Mentoring, Interventions, Helps & Training.)

“However he refused to satisfy with me,” stated Levine, who has been consulting with survivors of the Parkland capturing. “I used to be instructed that they had it underneath management and that they didn’t want any exterior recommendation.”

Runcie’s workplace didn’t reply to requests for remark concerning Levine’s claims.

Runcie and the Broward college board have agreed to carry a neighborhood discussion board Wednesday to deal with rising considerations from mother and father and college students in regards to the function the PROMISE program performed within the capturing and total college security.

“The PROMISE program has failed us, and self-discipline hasn’t been allotted the way in which it ought to have been,” mother or father Donald Eckler instructed the board throughout a public assembly this month. “We’ve shut off communication between the college board and the police businesses that affect these college students.”

That new self-discipline coverage took impact in 2013. It was on the vanguard of the Obama administration’s efforts to deal with the “college to jail” pipeline. Starting in 2009, it opened lots of of investigations or sued to pressure districts to undertake lenient self-discipline tips. This push was formalized in a 2014 “Expensive Colleague” letter to the nation’s public college superintendents and board members that not solely discourages scholar arrests, however holds districts accountable for the actions of college useful resource officers.

After assembly with Obama officers within the White Home, Runcie persuaded the Broward County Sheriff’s Workplace and Fort Lauderdale Police Division to conform to cease arresting college students who dedicated misdemeanor crimes the district deemed “nonviolent” – together with assault, theft, vandalism, medicine and public combating. This included a number of offenders equivalent to Cruz. Regulation enforcement agreed for probably the most half to let college officers deal with such delinquents by two counseling applications: PROMISE and the Conduct Intervention Program.

Runcie argued that diverting minor offenders from jail to “restorative justice” counseling and different constructive behavioral interventions would assist shut the educational “achievement hole” by disrupting the circulate of black college students into the so-called “schoolhouse to jailhouse pipeline.” Although African-Individuals made up about 40 % of the Broward scholar physique, they accounted for greater than 70 % of juvenile arrests within the county.

In a associated program, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel additionally agreed to again off arrests of scholars who commit such crimes exterior of faculties, providing them civil citations and the identical “restorative justice” counseling as an alternative of incarceration, even for repeat offenders. Restorative justice is a controversial various punishment by which delinquents collect in “therapeutic circles” with counselors – and typically even the victims of their crime – and focus on their emotions and the “root causes” of their anger and actions.

Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie.

Amy Beth Bennett /South Florida Solar-Sentinel by way of AP

Inside two years of adopting the self-discipline reforms, Broward’s juvenile recidivism price surged larger than the Florida state common.

The destructive tendencies continued by final yr, the latest juvenile crime information present.

Prosecutors and probation officers complain that whereas total juvenile arrests are down, severe violent crimes involving school-aged Broward youths – together with armed theft, kidnapping and even homicide – have spiked, at the same time as such violent crimes throughout the state have dropped.

Juvenile arrests for homicide and manslaughter elevated 150 % between 2013 and 2016. They elevated by one other 50 % in 2017. County juveniles have been accountable for a complete of 16 murders or manslaughters prior to now two years alone, in response to the Florida Division of Juvenile Justice.

Final yr, the variety of Broward juveniles collared for armed theft totaled 92, up 46 % from 2013, division information present. Arrests for auto thefts jumped 170 % between 2013 and 2017 – from 105 to 284. Juveniles charged with kidnapping, furthermore, surged 157 % in 2016 and one other 43 % final yr.

Broward Juvenile Delinquency Division Choose Elijah Williams, who has given full-throated assist to the PROMISE program, acknowledged “a rising downside locally the place gangs of youngsters are stealing automobiles,” in response to minutes of a 2017 Juvenile Justice Circuit Advisory Board assembly.

Max Eden, an training coverage professional and senior fellow on the Manhattan Institute, stated the no-arrest insurance policies for college kids of all races has demonstrably  “emboldened” criminality amongst Broward youth, together with Cruz, whose infractions grew to become steadily extra violent. Latest research present juveniles usually commit extra severe crimes when petty crimes will not be  punished.

1000’s of arrested Broward college students have had their data deleted within the system as a part of a program to finish “disproportionate minority contact” with regulation enforcement, blindfolding each avenue cops and faculty useful resource officers to the prison historical past of potential juvenile threats.

As well as, “the precise police reviews are being destroyed,” acknowledged Broward juvenile prosecutor Maria Schneider at a current Juvenile Justice Circuit Advisory Board assembly. She added that her workplace has added a full-time lawyer to deal with expunctions.

In the meantime, “scared straight” area journeys to the juvenile jail at the moment are a factor of the previous. And juvenile probation officers are discouraged from visiting colleges.

After Broward colleges started emphasizing rehabilitation over incarceration, fights broke out nearly day-after-day in school rooms, hallways, cafeterias and campuses throughout the district. Final yr, greater than three,000 fights erupted within the district’s 300-plus colleges, together with the altercations involving Cruz. No brawlers have been arrested, even after their third struggle, and even when they despatched different youngsters to the hospital.

Federal information present nearly half of Broward center college college students have been concerned in fights, with many struggling accidents requiring medical therapy. The lion’s share of the campus violence is going down at center colleges and excessive colleges in Miramar, Coconut Creek, Fort Lauderdale and Plantation.

New Renaissance Center Faculty in Miramar.

Broward County Public Colleges

At South Plantation Excessive Faculty, as an example, all-out brawls involving dozens of scholars have been reported often in hallways and the cafeteria.

One pissed off mother or father, Santiago Ortega, stated his 14-year-old son was so afraid of being jumped by upperclassmen that he routinely hid in a toilet stall throughout college. Ortega stated he each referred to as and emailed the superintendent’s workplace – and even tried to personally attain out to Runcie – to complain. However, he stated, nothing was finished. Pissed off, he just lately transferred his son to a special college.

“They want extra safety,” the daddy complained. “And they should really tackle the problem.”

As a result of the scholars concerned within the fights are thought-about “mutual combatants,” directors inform mother and father they can’t be referred to police underneath the brand new self-discipline code.

Mother and father are reportedly so fearful their children will likely be attacked unawares that they’ve suggested them to take away their cellphone music earbuds whereas strolling the hallways to raised hear assailants approaching from behind.

In a December 2016 struggle caught on video at Plantation Excessive Faculty, a number of women beat and dragged one other lady to the bottom and took turns kicking her. Campus police didn’t break up the struggle and the ladies who jumped her weren’t arrested. The attacked lady’s mom stated the college didn’t cease bullying earlier than it escalated into violence, after which swept the incident underneath the rug. Three different fights reportedly broke out the identical day on the college.

A Plantation instructor just lately instructed an area TV station that faculty combating, which she says has grown extra fierce and frequent, usually is just not reported to police or directors “due to politics.”

Earlier within the yr, one other lady was jumped by a number of women as she walked down a flight of stairs at New Renaissance Center Faculty. Jayla Cofer ended up within the emergency room with deep lacerations and bruises to her face. Although a college useful resource officer broke up the struggle, no arrests have been made. As an alternative, the ladies have been despatched to the PROMISE program for just a few days of counseling classes, that are held at Pine Ridge Training Middle in Fort Lauderdale.

Jayla Cofer’s mom, Santrail Cofer, reported the incident to Miramar police and filed a lawsuit towards the college district for failing to ship the assailants to jail or take away them from college.

Rosalind Osgood, a Broward County college board member whose district consists of Plantation Excessive, acknowledged on the time the district has a combating and total violence downside. However she argued arrests and different harsh punishments will not be the reply as a result of they don’t tackle underlying emotional points that result in aggression.

“I don’t need colleges to be a spot the place we’ve acquired gobs and gobs of officers strolling round,” stated Osgood, who chaired the board in 2013 and was one of many unique signers of the no-arrest mandate. “I’m making an attempt to maintain children out of jail, so I don’t need to create a jail surroundings.”

In October 2016, a possible college capturing was thwarted at Coral Springs Excessive Faculty because of a scholar who alerted a college useful resource officer after recognizing a gun within the waistband of a former scholar who had entered the cafeteria. The 17-year-old former scholar, Ryan Trollinger, allegedly deliberate to offer the loaded 9 mm handgun to an enrolled good friend who authorities stated deliberate to make use of the weapon for a “large college capturing.”

Dexter M. Williams, Miramar police chief.

Miramar Police Division

The opposite scholar, a juvenile who was not recognized, reportedly wrote in a journal: “I need to be the worst college shooter in America. Worst [sic] than Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Saney [sic] Hook.” Trollinger acquired 15 days detention, counseling and neighborhood service, whereas the would-be shooter was despatched for psychiatric analysis and was not charged with a criminal offense.

The scare at Coral Springs Excessive adopted the invention a yr earlier of a .357 Smith & Wesson handgun, ammunition, masks and knife within the backpack of a Dawn Center Faculty boy in that faculty’s cafeteria.

Across the similar time, one other Dawn Center Faculty boy punched his 62-year-old science instructor within the face – bloodying her nostril, injuring her eye and inflicting a concussion – as a result of she instructed him he couldn’t bounce his basketball within the classroom.

It was the second bodily assault on the instructor, Ruthanne Stadnik, in two weeks on the Fort Lauderdale college.

“They really feel there are not any penalties,” she stated.

“Sadly, it’s not an uncommon occasion,” Broward juvenile prosecutor Schneider stated on the time, including that district youngsters have additionally struck “college board workers.”

Though the native prosecutor initially signed on to the PROMISE settlement, she cautioned that backing off the arrest and prosecution of too many delinquent college students might find yourself “making the colleges a extra harmful place.” Only a few months after the settlement was finalized in November 2013, Schneider warned college officers who have been fearful about prison data “stigmatizing” minority youth: “There must be accountability for dangerous habits.”

Native police have develop into pissed off with crime spilling over from colleges, and have pushed again towards the PROMISE program, which, some officers suspect, “college students are using as a pass-through to run medicine by the colleges,” in response to minutes of a current assembly of Broward’s Juvenile Justice Circuit Advisory Board.

Critics say college officers knew the scholar security image was darkening and tried to gloss over it.

In 2014, the yr after self-discipline reforms took impact and faculty security information began trending badly, Broward stopped asking college students key security questions in an annual survey, together with whether or not they “really feel protected” within the classroom, restroom or cafeteria, or whether or not they have “seen college students with weapons at college.” The subsequent yr, the district stopped publishing its yearly school-climate surveys fully.

“In 2014, they eliminated the six questions straight asking college students whether or not they felt protected,” Eden stated. “After 2015, they discontinued the annual survey that they had been conducting for 21 years.”

The district didn’t reply to requests searching for rationalization for the discontinued college security surveys.

The federal authorities, nevertheless, conducts its personal annual survey of the local weather at main districts throughout the nation. The information for Broward present a deterioration in security indicators after the self-discipline reforms have been adopted.

Between 2013 and 2015 (the newest information out there), weapons possession, combating, bullying and tried suicide all rose for Broward excessive colleges, in response to the federal Facilities for Illness Management. Greater than 17 % of scholars averted going to highschool at the very least as soon as as a result of they felt unsafe. There have been greater than 70,000 college students enrolled in Broward excessive colleges in 2015.

In the meantime, the CDC’s survey of Broward center colleges confirmed 33.5 % of the 1,503 college students surveyed in 2015 had been bullied on college property. Virtually half – 47.four % – had gotten into fights, with greater than four % leading to accidents handled by a physician. Practically 20 % carried a gun, knife or membership to highschool, up from nearly 18 % in 2013, whereas one in 5 additionally critically considered killing themselves.

The newest state information, furthermore, present that the Broward college system now has the very best price of weapons-related incidents in South Florida.

Dr. Rosalind Osgood, college board member.


In 2017 alone, there have been at the very least 10 reported circumstances of scholars taking their very own lives, together with “an amazing enhance within the calls on suicides,” data present, prompting the district to implement “particular response groups” to stop extra suicides. Even elementary college youngsters try suicide.

“Bullying has develop into lethal,” Levine stated. On his suggestion, a number of households have pulled their victimized youngsters out of the Broward college system.

He warned that Broward’s lenient self-discipline insurance policies, which fail to mete out harsh penalties to bullies, have fostered an surroundings that might trigger a sufferer to snap in different methods. “Cruz was badly bullied in center college and highschool,” Levine identified.

Along with PROMISE, the Broward college district has created one other counseling program for college kids with extreme habits issues and violent tendencies, and has discovered restricted success with it as nicely.

RealClearInvestigations has realized that Cruz was assigned to the extra “intensive” counseling – administered by the Conduct Intervention Program – after a number of violent incidents and earlier than the Valentine’s Day capturing.

In lieu of arrest for a string of great infractions, Cruz was diverted to the Cross Creek Faculty, which is a part of the Conduct Intervention Program. The counseling at Cross Creek lasts months (versus days at PROMISE’s Pine Ridge facility), however critics say it’s a part of the identical misguided social program to divert law-breaking college students from jail.

Regardless of a number of months of counseling, Cruz’s habits didn’t change. His Cross Creek counselors famous he continued to exhibit a number of disturbing habits patterns, together with an obsession with weapons and violence.

But in January 2016, he was transferred again to Stoneman Douglas Excessive. After he introduced bullets to highschool in a backpack, college authorities barred him from carrying a backpack however didn’t refer him to regulation enforcement, although it was a Class B weapons violation and an arrestable offense, in response to the college’s disciplinary code. Information present he additionally was concerned in a number of incidents of combating and a severe assault there that triggered a “menace evaluation.” On the similar time, he posted threatening messages towards the college on social media.

The district declined to supply data detailing the counseling and different interventions that Cruz obtained whereas within the district-wide Conduct Intervention Program (previously Conduct Change Program/Self-discipline Facilities).

“Our workplace is unable to supply any data in your inquiry, as this falls underneath the foundations defending scholar data and data,” Broward spokeswoman Cathleen Brennan stated.

The renamed Conduct Intervention Program was expanded in 2013, the identical yr Runcie signed the “collaborative settlement” with the county sheriff, police chiefs, prosecutors and juvenile courtroom judges to maintain lawbreaking college students at school.

Broward Deputy Sheriff Jeff Bell, who additionally serves as president of the Broward Sheriff’s Workplace Deputies Affiliation, stated that deputies working as college useful resource officers (SROs) within the Broward County college system have been educated to counsel and mentor disruptive and lawbreaking college students somewhat than take them into custody.

“They have been principally paying us to not make arrests,” he stated.

Robert Martinez, a Broward deputy who labored as a college useful resource officer for practically 20 years, agreed. He stated the college district wished to maintain arrest numbers down in any respect prices, and actively discouraged college useful resource officers from taking lawbreaking college students into custody. He stated eradicating a harmful teen like Cruz from a college can take as much as two years because of all of the pink tape that was added to the method by Runcie’s new self-discipline insurance policies and applications.

Martinez, who retired final yr after 18 years stationed at varied Broward colleges, added that the variety of sheriff’s deputies assigned to space colleges has in recent times been minimize in half, to about 30, as they’ve come underneath growing political strain to look the opposite means when college students break the regulation.

Maria M. Schneider, assistant state lawyer accountable for the Juvenile Division for the 17th Judicial Circuit of Florida.

Youngsters’s Companies Council of Broward County

“I began in 1997, and we had roughly 60 SROs,” he stated, including that the scarcity has harm college security.

Information present their bosses have been additionally uneasy in regards to the new coverage.

Lower than two months after the signing of the no-arrest settlement, the manager employees of the Broward Sheriff’s Workplace expressed considerations that deputies have been unable to determine whether or not gang members, repeat offenders or violent children on probation have been committing crimes inside colleges because of the constraints of the PROMISE program, minutes of a 2014 assembly with college officers and different members of the Juvenile Justice Circuit Advisory Board reveal.

“In line with the [new discipline] matrix, that child might get a number of probabilities to reoffend,” stated David Scharf, govt director of neighborhood applications for Broward Sheriff’s Workplace.

Friction additionally got here from the state lawyer’s workplace. Across the similar time, juvenile prosecutor Schneider complained that college students committing aggravated battery – a violent felony – have been being categorized as “non-violent” misdemeanor offenders and referred to PROMISE counseling as an alternative of jail.

“If that is the definition that’s now being utilized, there’s a downside,” she stated, “as a result of that’s not the definition that the state lawyer, [police] chiefs, or the sheriff signed onto.”

Added Schneider: “There are incidents that qualify for PROMISE the place a baby must go to the hospital, and that shouldn’t be occurring.”

Final yr, then-Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Frank Adderley knowledgeable college officers in one other assembly of the juvenile justice board that his “officers expressed considerations their discretion [was] being taken away.” Miramar Police Chief Dexter Williams, furthermore, relayed that his “officers don’t like not having the discretion” to arrest lawbreaking college students.

As well as, district data present aides used juvenile arrest information to focus on the strictest colleges for investigation, together with the college useful resource officers assigned to the colleges who made the arrests, after which made adjustments in interagency contracts that dramatically diminished the function and total profile of regulation enforcement on the campuses.

In 2014, Broward joined with the Division of Juvenile Justice to tally the variety of college students categorized as “school-related arrested.” Then it developed a data-matching course of to “drill right down to the precise college the place the arrest occurred to create systemic change,” in response to a Broward County colleges doc.

The college district “remodeled not solely district insurance policies and practices, however the insurance policies and practices of native regulation enforcement and the juvenile justice system,” it boasted in one other doc.

Within the yr after the coverage was applied, school-related arrests for felonies fell alongside these for misdemeanor crimes, because the district and its regulation enforcement companions lowered arrests just by not making them – throughout the board. And after signing the settlement, Sheriff Israel instructed deputies to situation lawbreaking juveniles tickets in lieu of arrests. In truth, Israel made the issuance of civil citations obligatory for deputies and faculty useful resource officers even for second- and third-time misdemeanor offenders.

In October 2016, throughout the re-signing ceremony with the district, Israel boasted, “Now we have drastically minimize down on juvenile arrests” with a purpose to “blow up” the school-to-prison pipeline. He stated his workplace is giving law-breaking youth “second, third probabilities.”

“Sheriff Israel can boast that arrests are down in Broward County [but] that tends to occur if you cease arresting,” Eden stated. “That doesn’t imply that colleges are safer.”

Marjory Stoneman Douglas Excessive Faculty in Parkland, Florida.

Wikimedia Commons

Additionally, as RealClearInvestigations just lately reported, the Broward district quietly funneled hundreds of violent felons again into the classroom somewhat than permitting incarcerated juveniles to proceed to review in jail, the place lecturers are additionally assigned to instruct them. Beneath its so-called “re-engagement” program, when convicted felons dedicated additional felonies whereas within the Conduct Intervention Program, they weren’t arrested however somewhat given a time-out — after which reassigned again to common colleges.

The PROMISE and Conduct Intervention Applications haven’t achieved the core goals they have been created to attain in 2013 – closing the racial disparity in suspensions, expulsions and arrests between black college students and white college students. That hole is now wider than ever, despite a “very aggressive” Broward system objective of reducing the black arrest price by 5 % annually and 33 % total.

Final yr, blacks have been suspended at three.four instances the speed of whites, in response to inside college district reviews, up from 2.three instances earlier than the race-based self-discipline reforms.

As an alternative of rethinking this system, the district is doubling down on it.

To get numbers for suspensions and arrests for black college students down additional, it’s placing lecturers and directors by coaching to look at their “whiteness” and to purify themselves of “implicit biases” that might prejudice their response to minority misbehavior, whereas encouraging empathy for components that contribute to their misbehavior, equivalent to “antagonistic childhood experiences.”

In different phrases, as an alternative of blaming these college students for committing the next price of infractions, Runcie and his crew are placing lecturers and principals on the spot for harboring deep-seated prejudices that cause them to “subconsciously” mete out harsher punishments for them.

Inner paperwork reveal that the district has already put lecturers by a extremely controversial two-day anti-racism coaching program taught by the San Francisco primarily based Pacific Instructional Group. Its coaching cautions white lecturers towards taking a look at black misbehavior by the lens of “whiteness” with out understanding the black tradition, which it claims is “loud” and “emotional.”

PEG additionally instructs BCPS educators to self-examine, by “brave conversations” the “privilege of being white or the correct to be white,” earlier than referring unruly college students of coloration for punishment.

Broward officers declined to speak in regards to the PEG coaching program or reveal particulars, together with the price of its contract with PEG. Different districts have paid PEG lots of of hundreds of dollars for the coaching.

On the similar time, the Broward college district is trying to place native law enforcement officials by related anti-bias coaching. However it’s assembly stiff resistance from at the very least one giant company.

Faculty official David Watkins, who heads the district’s Workplace of Fairness and Educational Attainment, complained that the Fort Lauderdale Police Division just lately “backed out” of a controversial survey the district ordered to measure “implicit bias” that police and educators might harbor towards black juveniles.

A Fort Lauderdale Police Division spokeswoman confirmed that “our division is just not taking part” within the venture, which doesn’t assure the confidentiality of survey respondents and intends to share the outcomes with civil-rights activists and the media.

Runcie has referred to as criticism of his self-discipline reforms “politics,” and says it is led by conservatives who would somewhat discuss his ties to the Obama administration than gun management, which he says is the true situation behind the college capturing. “It’s a diversion from points like ‘commonsense’ gun reform,” he insisted.

landed the highest district job on the advice of Obama’s training secretary, Arne Duncan, who served as Runcie’s boss within the Chicago college system and who later employed his brother, James Runcie, in Washington.

Robert Runcie stated he has no plans to make adjustments in this system apart from to “improve” police presence on campuses to reply quicker to potential college shootings.

“We’re not going to dismantle a program that’s been profitable within the district due to false data that’s been on the market,”
stated Runcie.