Progressive Ideology Trumps Student Safety
Two months after the Parkland massacre, all Broward County has to show for it is clear backpacks.
In the end, it was all about gun control, not safety.
“Two months after a massacre in Parkland made security the top focus in Broward County schools, many parents and students say the school district is doing too little to ensure safety,” the Sun-Sentinel reports. “An emotionally charged school security forum at Plantation High drew hundreds who complained about what they saw as an ineffective response by the school district both before and after the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas” that claimed 17 lives.
Those who expected genuine school security following the massacre have a lot to learn about the progressive mindset. On the first day back from spring break, clear backpacks and ID lanyards were issued to students, and police officers were stationed at the four doors students were allowed to enter. Band instruments and sports equipment were turned over to teachers and coaches, non-clear back packs were confiscated, and a number of bags were searched.
All well and good, but an essential element was apparently a bridge too far: neither metal-detecting wands or metal detectors are part of the equation. “It feels like being punished,” Principal Ty Thompson complained. “It feels like jail, being checked every time we go to school.”
That a “jail” is preferable to a slaughterhouse apparently eludes Thompson.
Moreover, the clear back pack requirement is apparently devolving into the farce it always was. Some students have added non-clear liners to them, and others have placed sheets of paper in them with the words “clear backpacks are stupid,” or “this backpack is probably worth more than my life.” Several students have criticized the lack of privacy, and female students are embarrassed by being forced to display feminine products they’d rather keep under wraps.
Michael Dorn, executive director of the non-profit campus safety organization Safe Havens International, gets to the heart of the Left’s absurd determination to promote a feel-good solution in lieu of real security. “They take a book and hollow it out and put a gun in the book,” he explained. “This is not an anomaly. It’s a repeatedly used method. They buy all of these different containers and put the gun in there, or they put it in a tennis shoe or wrap the gun in their gym shorts. They get a rifle and put it in a musical instrument case.”
Moreover, as senior student and forum attendee Angelina Lazo implied, despite the massive failures evinced by the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) during the shooting, little has changed. “Why do we have clear backpacks if they aren’t being enforced?” she asked. “Why do we have BSO everywhere if they aren’t doing their job and just seem to be hanging around our campus?”
Not just hanging around. Just over a month after the shooting, Deputy Moises Carotti was suspended for falling asleep in his patrol car while on duty. “Of all the schools in America, you would think this would be the safest one right now,” declared Sen. Marco Rubio at the time. “This is so outrageous it’s almost impossible to believe.”
Is it? We may soon find out. Last Wednesday, Broward Circuit Judge Jeffrey Levenson ordered the release of a redacted version of the footage captured by exterior cameras at Marjory Stoneman the day of the shooting.
The Broward County School Board and the Broward State Attorney’s Office had sought to block the release. The Board insisted it would weaken school security, and the Attorney’s Office contended the tapes were part of an ongoing criminal investigation and might present problems with regard to the prosecution of the murderer. Levenson decided otherwise, noting the video is not part of an active investigation and that the “potential harm” to Stoneman’s security measures are “outweighed by the strong public interest in disclosure.”
The BSO has until May 2 to appeal the ruling.
Whether the tapes will reveal anything as damning as former school resource officer Scot Peterson’s refusal to enter the school while the massacre was taking place remains to be seen. Nonetheless, the failure of the Broward County Sheriff’s Department, headed by political hack Scot Israel, is beyond dispute.
So is Israel’s ongoing arrogance, for which he is facing a historic no-confidence vote from the union representing his own deputies. When asked by reporter Bob Norman whether he lied when he asserted that Peterson was the only deputy at the school — despite radio transmissions by his own department revealing the presence of three other deputies — Israel told Norman he was disappointed by the newsman’s “constant reporting” and “misrepresentations.”
That exchange took place in late March, just prior to Israel’s visit to the Weston Democratic Club — where he “blamed partisan Republican politics for the criticism against his agency,” as ABC News characterized it.
If one wishes to address charges of partisan politics, one need look no further than the Democrat/Media Complex’s lionization of Parkland students advocating gun-control and blaming the NRA for something it had nothing to do with, and compare it to the equally-orchestrated marginalization of their pro-Second Amendment peers. Even Barack Obama got in on the act, asserting that if Parkland students (along with Dreamers and Black Lives Matter activists) “make their elders uncomfortable, that’s how it should be.”
If anyone should feel uncomfortable, it’s Obama. A bombshell exposé by Paul Sperry reveals the former president’s efforts to racialize school discipline standards — eagerly embraced by Broward County school officials and the sheriff’s office in the form of the PROMISE program — has engendered the “highest percentage of ‘the most serious, violent [and] chronic’ juvenile offenders in Florida, according to the county’s chief juvenile probation officer,‘” Sperry writes.
Nonetheless, when the PROMISE program was criticized by Broward student Kenneth Preston at the April 10 meeting of the Broward County School Board, Superintendent Robert Runcie characterized the attempt to connect it to the shooting as “reprehensible.”
Not nearly as reprehensible as the action taken by the Board itself. In response to the shooting, the state established the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, named after the hero football coach who died while protecting students. It allocated $67 million statewide for training and payments enabling certain school employees to be armed.
The Board unanimously voted to decline participation.
Adding insult to injury, the Board and Runcie decided to leave the PROMISE program in place. “We’re not going to dismantle a program in this district that is serving and helping kids appropriately because of news that is not fact-based,” he said.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control, weapons possession, fighting, bullying and attempted suicide all rose for Broward high schools between 2013 and 2015. Additionally, state data reveal that Broward County has the highest level of weapons-related incidents in South Florida.
Those are the facts. Thus, while the progressive clarion calls for gun control remain front and center, and the race-based PROMISE program that shields minority student miscreants remains in place, all students ultimately remain as vulnerable as they ever were.
At the meeting, Runcie insisted changes to the status quo are “not going to happen overnight.”
Really? Why not?