I’m barely old enough to remember a time when mass shootings united our country in sorrow and spurred the press to serious investigation. These days, it seems like each tragedy becomes another excuse to attack Donald Trump.
That’s certainly what happened when my sister Meadow was murdered in Parkland. My dad, Andrew Pollack, and I wanted the facts. But when we demanded to know what went wrong and why, Broward School Superintendent Robert Runcie dismissed our concerns as right wing “fake news,” and most of the media focused more on attacking questions rather than answering them.
That left it to us to find answers. After a year of investigating, we’ve written a book that exposes every failure and tells parents the profound national significance of what happened here: “Why Meadow Died: The People and Policies that Created the Parkland Shooter and Endanger America’s Students.”
Every parent and teacher in America needs to know the untold story of Parkland. Because it was the most avoidable mass murder in American history, and the policies that made it inevitable have spread to your school.
The shooter could not possibly have been more clear that he wanted to murder. In middle school, he talked about guns almost every day. Everyone was terrified of him. A teacher said that she thought he was a serious danger because he couldn’t tell the difference between violent video games and reality. When they finally transferred him to a specialized school for disturbed students, he told staff there that he dreamt of killing and being covered in blood.
Then, after a few months of good behavior, they put him in Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School next to my sister. Not only that, I guess because he liked guns so much, they let him practice shooting in JROTC.
At MSD, he was brought to the office all of the time. He allegedly threatened to kill other students, carved swastikas into a lunchroom table, and wrote racist slurs his backpack. He scared them so much that they prohibited him from wearing a backpack and frisked him every day to be sure he wasn’t carrying a deadly weapon.
But you wouldn’t know it from his official educational records. And that’s hardly surprising. Under the leadership of Superintendent Runcie, Broward became ground zero for a dangerous new approach to school safety. In an effort to fight the so-called “school to prison pipeline” and implement “restorative justice” Runcie pressured schools to dramatically lower suspensions, expulsions, and arrests. And principals responded by refusing to enforce rules or document deeply disturbing behavior.
This matters far beyond Parkland, because these politically correct leniency policies have spread across America. Before coming to Broward, Runcie worked under Arne Duncan when he was Superintendent of Chicago Public Schools. As President Obama’s Secretary of Education, Duncan used federal civil rights investigations, and the threat thereof, to coerce hundreds of school districts serving millions of students to adopt Runcie’s leniency policies.
Nationwide, 70 percent of teachers say that their schools decreased suspensions by having a higher tolerance for misbehavior, and almost half say that the apparent decrease in discipline was due to under-reporting. Only a quarter of teachers say that their principals consistently report serious incidents.
These policies are everywhere. Usually they just lead to rampant disorder, bullying, and violence. But sometimes the consequences are far more severe. Look at what happened in Dayton: the shooter was caught with a kill list and a rape list but had nothing on his record to stop him from buying a gun. He was suspended for a bit, then put back into school, leaving students so scared that a third of them skipped school.
Parents have to wake up. My dad and I fought tooth and nail to expose these policies, and the families of all of the victims united to ask Broward County to vote for new school board members. But Broward didn’t care to look at the facts or change anything.
Fortunately, President Trump looked at the facts. His Federal School Safety Commission ended the Department of Education initiative that pressured schools to adopt these policies. But nothing will change unless parents take action at the local level.
A few years ago, America had a national grassroots uprising against the Common Core, which the Obama administration also pushed into our schools without parents’ knowledge or teachers’ consent. But concerned mothers and fathers fought hard to uproot it.
This is what must happen now with these “restorative justice” policies. We hope that Meadow’s death won’t go down in history as just another excuse to attack Donald Trump. Rather, we hope that parents across America will take the time to learn the true story of Parkland, and take action to #fixit and make school safe again.
Hunter Pollack (@PollackHunter) lost his sister, Meadow, in the Parkland school shooting. He is a school safety activist, and wrote the foreword to “Why Meadow Died: The People and Policies that Created the Parkland Shooter and Endanger America’s Students.”
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.