Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel defended an Obama-era Department of Education program Sunday, even though some experts think it may have enabled school shooter Nikolas Cruz to carry out his massacre.
During his interview with CNN Sunday, Sheriff Israel refused to blame the shooting on a 2013 PROMISE agreement Broward County made with the Department of Education that ended school-based arrests based on “minor misbehavior.” The measure was intended to “reduce exclusionary disciplinary practices while implementing prevention and intervention programs for children and youth who are neglected, delinquent or at-risk.”
Max Eden, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute specializing in school discipline reform and disorder, wrote in a USA Today op-ed last March that the Obama administration’s changes to school discipline had a dangerous result to public education all over the country. According to Eden, it pressured school officials and teachers to underreport or not report serious incidents committed by students.
“It seems certainly worth asking about whether that pressure played a role in this particular incident. especially because you know Broward County was a first mover in these reforms. In 2013, they signed this PROMISE agreements to try to dramatically get down in-school arrests,” Eden told The Daily Caller Monday.
He continued, “So they reclassified about a dozen problems as being potentially police related. Not surprisingly the rate of arrests plummeted. If you don’t arrest kids for things, then your arrest rates will go down which they did [in Broward]. They got really great public attention for it. The Obama administration brought them in and said they were a national model now that they’re getting their arrest rates down.”
In his 2017 USA Today piece, Eden describes how other schools were forced to move in the same direction as Broward County did.
“So, the Obama administration issued federal guidance putting school districts on notice that even if their discipline policy was ‘neutral on its face’ and ‘administered in an evenhanded manner,’ they could be subject to a federal civil rights investigation if minorities were suspended at a higher rate,” Eden wrote. “Partly in response to federal pressure, over 50 school districts, serving 6.35 million students, implemented reforms and 27 states revised their laws regarding school discipline.”
Cruz, according to The Washington Post, had a long history of escalating behavioral problems which got to the point of some teachers becoming scared of him.
“I can say I was so uncomfortable around him, I did not want to be alone with him in my classroom,” one former teacher told The Post. “That is how disruptive his behavior was.”
Sheriff Israel has repeatedly shifted responsibility regarding the multiple red flags his office received about Cruz, as well as why his armed deputies did not enter the school to engage Cruz.
“As I said, I’m the Sheriff, my name’s on the door,” Israel told a local NBC reporter. “The people responsible are the ones who took the calls and didn’t follow up on them, as it was with the FBI, as it was with any person.”
Eden scoffed at Israel’s assertion saying, “There’s this way in which it’s like dereliction of duty as virtue signaling. We’re going to stop doing our jobs and then we’re going to issue press releases saying look how much arrests have gone down. And then when something bad happens, well we weren’t informed about it but the entire policy was to not inform the police.”