The Parkland shooter was recommended for a controversial disciplinary program before the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17, but it is unclear whether he attended.
A Broward county school official on Sunday said the school district had “confirmed” that the young gunman was recommended for the PROMISE program, even after the superintendent said more than once the 19-year-old had “no connection” to it.
The program was intended to thin out the “school-to-prison pipeline” by providing counseling and other therapy for students who committed any on a list of 13 misdemeanors. However, critics have lambasted PROMISE since the shooting, saying it encouraged school officials to turn a blind eye to students who committed felonies.
Nikolas Cruz was prescribed a three day stay with PROMISE after he committed vandalism at Westglades Middle School in 2013, two sources told WLRN, but it is not clear whether he actually attended.
“It does not appear that Cruz completed the recommended three-day assignment/placement,” said the the school official who added that the gunman interviewed at a PROMISE housing center.
A Broward Sheriff’s Office representative also reported “there was no PROMISE program participation.”
Anthony Borges, 15, who took five bullets shielding his classmates, is suing the Broward County school district for negligence in preventing the shooting. He does not want to scrap PROMISE necessarily, but says it was implemented in a way that sent the wrong message to school administrators.
“You failed us students, teachers and parents alike on so many levels,” Borges said in a statement to Superintendent Robert Runcie. “I want to ask you today to please end your policy and agreement that you will not arrest people committing crimes in our schools.”
Republican senator Marco Rubio also criticized the way PROMISE was introduced.
“The more we learn, the more it appears the problem is not the program or the DOE guidance itself, but the way it is being applied,” the Florida senator wrote on Twitter in March. “It may have created a culture discourages referral to law enforcement even in egregious cases like the Parkland shooter.
The more we learn, the more it appears the problem is not the program or the DOE guidance itself, but the way it is being applied. It may have created a culture discourages referral to law enforcement even in egregious cases like the #Parkland shooter.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 13, 2018
School officials blame controversy over the program on “misinformation” and “fake news.”
Runcie has said PROMISE will stay in place.
Broward county made top of the list in the 2011-12 school year for the most arrests of students than in any other Florida district. Concern over this sparked the idea for PROMISE (Preventing Recidivism through Opportunities, Mentoring, Interventions, Supports and Education).