In HBO’s The Wire (truly a transcendental television experience), there is a story line about an upcoming mayoral election and the concerted effort to manipulate the crime stats before the election to make the existing administration look better. Whether or not this was art imitating life, it replicates how things got started in Broward County, Florida, leading directly to the murder of 17 innocent souls in Parkland.
It seems that every day more revelations come out about the collapse of the system in Parkland that failed to stop the murderer from roaming the halls of a high school with a gun he should never have had an opportunity to legally acquire. Yet the tale of failure starts way before the fated day he entered the school.
This starts with the Superintendent of Broward County, Robert Runcie, who arrived in his position from Chicago where he worked with Arne Duncan. Mr. Duncan went from there to serve as President Obama’s Secretary of Education for seven years. Runcie stated, in October 2011, “I arrived in the district and, shortly after that, began to dive into the data on student performance in the district. We quickly recognized that Broward had a high number of arrests, suspensions and expulsions. In fact, the highest number in the state. We realized we were not going to be able to create equitable opportunities for success in our school system if our students are not in school.”
Runcie went about redesigning the system to reduce arrests and expulsions. By his own words they identified 13 violations of the code of conduct that were nonviolent, misdemeanor offenses. That is not the case as some of the crimes were violent misdemeanors like what is called “affray.” The school system went about erasing these crimes from existing. We all know what happens when individuals are not disciplined for low-level crimes. They often move on to other low-level crimes or more aggressive anti-social behavior.
This policy was installed as told to me by Max Eden of the Manhattan Institute. Mr. Eden has been following this issue from day one and he told me unfortunately he is one of a very small group who has been following this issue in America. Mr. Eden stated that Runcie’s policy became a coordinated effort with the police. That includes the now-famous Scott Israel, Broward County Sheriff. In fact, Runcie speaks of the coordinated effort with the community when he refers to eliminating the ‘school-to-prison pipeline’.
Why is it important that so few have been following the issue? Because this policy was soon adopted on a national level. That would be fine if there is specific evidence of this program working, but there is not. First, even though Runcie states there is such data, it was manipulated as it was in The Wire. Second, the adoption on a national level by Secretary Duncan and the Obama administration happened far too quickly. For the program to work as Runcie describes, the interventions with the troubled students would take years to resolve themselves. But that did not stop Duncan. As Runcie stated, “Some of my staff joke that the Obama administration might have taken our policies and framework and developed them into national guidelines.”
In 2014, a “Dear Colleague” letter was sent jointly from the Departments of Education and Justice to all public school districts threatening lawsuits over racial discrimination in student discipline. This had the same freezing effect as the Dear Colleague letter sent to colleges in 2011 regarding rape that has now been withdrawn by the Department of Education. Unlike the college letter, the one to school districts has largely stayed under the radar.
How did Broward make it look like matters had improved under their new policy? They were no longer reporting misbehavior and restricting suspensions; thus all the crime statistics fell. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy – no crime reported; everything “improved.”
Max Eden stated, “Broward eliminated many internal surveys regarding student behavior.” Their own internal annual survey was dispensed with and they began using a bi-annual federal survey. This is key because there was no survey the year after implementation of the Broward policy in 2013 which led to the Dear Colleague letter in 2014. The lack of understanding how retaining the misbehaving students in the classroom had affected the education environment for other students was not available. The 2015 federal survey in Broward reflected a declining safety environment in the schools.
Teachers were no longer reporting incidents because they were afraid of being branded as racist since many of these incidents involved minority students.
Matters are even worse than originally reported by Eden. Paul Sperry, noted author and investigative journalist, reported just this week that Runcie and his team spent extensive school resources mainlining individuals of school age who had been convicted of violent misdemeanors and/or felonies back into the school system.
As Sperry wrote: “Cassandra Evans, Broward County’s chief juvenile probation officer, has issued a general warning that juveniles transitioning out of secure detention have a high recidivism rate. This population is highly at risk of reoffending within the first 45 days [of release].”
The entire program has been shrouded in secrecy and statistics are not available as to how the program has worked. Parents were not made aware their children could be sitting in class next to a convicted felon just released from detention through the efforts of their tax dollars.
Everyone wishes that these students would become functional within the system and move on to college and a successful life as members of society. History shows that will not be the case. Runcie apparently does not believe that the program is something residents of the county can appreciate that is why he has hidden it from them.
This Broward policy spread throughout the country. Eden told me the suspension rate in Washington, DC, decreased by 40%. Principals stopped even reporting suspensions to cook the numbers.
One of the people impacted by this new policy was the murderer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Because of the new reporting (or non-reporting) system, the murderer had 21 incidents at the school that were not referred to the police. The police then were called to his home 39 times. Not once was this person taken to the police station and charged with anything and kept overnight. If just once he had been, he would not have passed his background check and he would never have been able to acquire a legal weapon of any kind.
Long before the failures of the FBI and the sheriff’s department that have been so broadly reported, this incident could have been stopped -- but Superintendent Runcie set off on his social engineering. Given the opportunity he would certainly talk about all of those who have benefited from his program.
Here is the problem with that. Every time people speak of issues like gun control, they will point to “if we can just save one life.” Here 17 lives were lost because of a failed social policy that has spread throughout the country. Unfortunately, the current Department of Education has not reversed this letter like they did with the Dear Colleague letter to colleges on Tile IX. It is our understanding the matter is currently under review.
Quite evidently if the Parkland murderer had not acquired a long gun to kill the people at the high school, he would have acquired illegal weapons or built a bomb or driven a vehicle into a crowd of students. He was a ticking time bomb that was left to fester by a school system and local law enforcement and thus never dealt with through the legal system.
This weekend, students from Parkland fanned out across the country to preach gun control and speak at gun control rallies. Their ignorance of the policies that were put in place by social engineering bureaucrats that directly led to this massacre hovers over them as they preach of false gods.
The question becomes: Since the implementation of these policies and the issuance of the Dear Colleague letter to public school systems, how many other ticking time bombs are out there ready to explode?