Letter to the editor — March 5, 2018

Dear editor,
Perhaps you, like me, weren’t surprised by the homogeneity of mainstream media and the Register’s editorial page in their calls for gun control in the wake of the recent school shooting in Florida.
Not so fast, my MSM buddies!
This time we learned that, while unarmed students and faculty used their bodies to shield others, an armed deputy (or four) cowered outside the building. While citizens did their duty of “See something, say something,” county deputies and the FBI fell down on their jobs of following through on tips.
I wondered how Nikolas Cruz was able to buy a gun when authorities had been called to his home dozens of time, he was not allowed to carry a backpack into the school building, and he had been banned from school following an assault.
My first clue came in the form of a Facebook post. Facebook is often not a reliable source of truth, but this post, shared by a couple of politically-savvy friends, indicated that Broward County schools had received extra funding after improving graduation rates and lowering students’ arrests by overlooking criminal behavior in the school.
A quick Internet search revealed that the Broward County Public School’s (BCPS) Police Department had been $2.5 million over budget in the 2015-2016 school year. Who knew that school districts had police departments or that they could have a $2.5 million budget, much less a $2.5 million shortfall?
I then heard about the PROMISE program and began my web search in earnest.
Robert Runcie, BCPS superintendent since 2011, came from Chicago where he had first been hired in education (despite never having been a teacher or a principal) by Arne Duncan, who later became Secretary of Education in the Obama Administration. In 2012 the Broward County school district received a $48.5 million Teacher Incentive Fund grant (TIF). In November 2013, the district signed an agreement on school discipline in collaboration with the NAACP and members of law enforcement, including Sheriff Israel.
Quoting from BCPS “News and Events” page: “The Collaborative Agreement on School Discipline establishes new guidelines and processes for handling non-violent misdemeanor offenses on school campuses to eliminate the schoolhouse to jailhouse pipeline.  It outlines for school personnel when it is necessary to involve law enforcement and when non-violent offenses can be handled through school resources and programs, such as the new PROMISE (Preventing Recidivism through Opportunities, Mentoring, Interventions, Support and Education) program.” Student arrests plummeted, although it appears it was more by design rather than from less delinquent behavior.
In July 2015, Runcie and Miami-Dade representatives were part of a White House Summit on school discipline. Emmy-award winning Independent journalist Jack Cashill, wrote a book (“If I Had a Son”: Race, Guns, and the Railroading of George Zimmerman) about one of Miami-Dade’s infamous former students, Trayvon Martin, himself a beneficiary of the hide-the-offense/spare-the-data policy at his school.
In October, 2016, BCPS again signed its school discipline agreement. Later the same month, it was announced that it was the only school district in Florida and the only large urban district in the nation to receive a TIF grant from the U.S. Department of Education, this one in the amount of $53.8 million.
Runcie recently said that Cruz was not part of the PROMISE program. If not, why wasn’t he in the juvenile justice system? Or the adult one for that matter. Four days before his 18th birthday, he was suspended for fighting. Four months later he had an internal one-day suspension for assault before being banned from school.
It appears Broward County schools, also, share the blame for their Valentine’s Day massacre. But, of course, all we hear about is the gun.
We’ve been told we should “listen to the children” on the issue of gun control. Knowing that research done in the last few decades shows that brain development isn’t complete until 25, I disagree. (As researchers quipped: The car rental companies have it right.)
Perhaps the private ownership of rapid-fire weapons should be delayed to the age of 25, but it should not be denied to all. And if background checks are to be effective at preventing the purchase of guns by those who should not possess them, schools like Miami-Dade and Broward need to stop dispensing “Keep Out of Jail Free” cards.
For those who say no one needs that kind of gun—remember Concord! The Second Amendment isn’t about protecting my husband’s right to hunt!
Juanell Garrett 
LaHarpe, Kan.

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