Florida's Parkland shooting superintendent of schools blows it again on school safety
On Tuesday, August 20, 2019, with regard to the decision to close a charter school, Broward County superintendent of schools Robert Runcie said: "It sends a message that regardless if you're a district-managed school or a charter-managed public school that there will be no compromise on the law and the requirements for school safety and security."
The vote by Broward County Public Schools to close the charter school occurred ostensibly due to that school having a security guard on duty, rather than a police officer, as law requires. The irony is rife.
For one thing, the recent school safety record of police officers in Broward County has been one of infamously dismal failure, considering the refusal of numerous police officers to intervene during the mass shooting that took place on February 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. As several police officers stood down there, while 17 were being murdered by a single armed assailant, and 17 more injured, the presence of armed police officers is no guarantee of safety for anyone.
In fact, one of those police officers, now indicted ex–Broward sheriff's deputy Scot Peterson, who was unlawfully allowed to retire during an investigation into his alleged misconduct, was sued for refusing to intervene on behalf of the defenseless victims. U.S. district judge Beth Bloom dismissed the lawsuit against Peterson, echoing an earlier opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States that police officers do not have a duty to protect anyone. So the idea of employing an armed security guard for school safety, rather than a police officer, may have merit.
The irony does not end there. Actually, given that Runcie is one of a number of Broward County officials who implemented the Promise Program in Broward Schools, it's quite impressive that he was able to make the claim with a straight face that "there will be no compromise on the law and the requirements for school safety and security." In order for the Promise Program to be implemented and perpetuated, it has been necessary daily to compromise on the law and on school safety, over and over again, for years.
The Promise Program was created on a firm foundation of ongoing compromise on the law, since a series of misdemeanors committed by students were, per official policy, not to be reported. The implementation of that policy, agreed to by Runcie, the members of the School Board, the Broward sheriff, police chiefs, the state attorney, and other elected and appointed officials, required the ongoing commission of various crimes by those bureaucrats and others who collaborated to perpetuate the lawless policy, such as but not limited to culpable negligence, breach of duty, suppression of evidence, official misconduct, and being an accessory after the fact to crimes committed by minors.
The semi-official pretext for implementing and perpetuating the Promise Program was to give students who fell into trouble with the law a second chance. But the fact is that chances given were so many per perpetrator per school year that a clear message was being sent that crime pays, that you can make your own rules, that respect for rule of law is optional or irrelevant, that adults do not keep the oath of office, and that hypocrisy is a way of life.
The message was clearly sent and clearly received by one and all, resulting in a breakdown in classroom order, teachers losing control, and having no real disciplinary recourse, since administrators refused to discipline unruly students. Teachers were assaulted, battered, or threatened, and fear began to rule their school days. School security was certainly compromised. Not even violent misdemeanors were being reported.
So where does Robert Runcie draw the line at deception? Where do the members of the Board of Broward County Public Schools draw the line?