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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs


Today, the anniversary of the Columbine massacre, students are being urged to walk out of school to protest school shootings, register voters and lobby for gun control.

Diego Quesada, an 18-year-old senior at Ronald Reagan High School in San Antonio, Texas, said organizers will “host a week of kindness that will focus on mental health and school safety issues that more conservative voices tend to champion and use the walkout to push more explicitly for new gun laws,” reports Vox.

I suspect the turn-out will be light compared to earlier protests.

At a public safety forum Parkland, Florida, where 17 students and educators were murdered at Douglas High School, “shaken students and enraged parents and educators appealed to school leaders protect campuses from violence, reports Corey Mitchell in Education Week.

The Broward County school district’s PROMISE program for troubled students “came under fire along with the district’s behavior intervention program, for students who return to district alternative school campuses after committing crimes,” writes Mitchell. The district has reduced suspensions and expulsions in favor of “Preventing Recidivism through Opportunities, Mentoring, Interventions, Supports & Education.”

While two former students stood to speak about the program’s benefits, many parents and educators argued that PROMISE, and other district programs, have created a pipeline for troubled students to re-enter schools often without proper intervention from law enforcement or mental health services. Broward County Superintendent Robert Runcie pushed back against criticism of the district’s discipline plan, which has become a major focus of debate in Washington as the Trump administration weighs whether it will revise or revoke Obama-era rules on school discipline. That guidance—jointly issued by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice—warned schools that they may violate federal civil rights laws if they enforce intentionally discriminatory rules or if their policies lead to disproportionately higher rates of discipline for students in one racial group, even if those policies were written without discriminatory intent.

School violence is on the rise in Broward County, writes Paul Sperry on RealClearInvestigations. “Juvenile justice division records, federal studies of Broward school district safety and the district’s own internal reporting,” which show an increase in “fighting, weapons use, bullying and related suicides.”

After Broward schools began emphasizing rehabilitation over incarceration, fights broke out virtually every day in classrooms, hallways, cafeterias and campuses across the district. Last year, more than 3,000 fights erupted in the district’s 300-plus schools, including the altercations involving (Nikolas) Cruz. No brawlers were arrested, even after their third fight, and even if they sent other children to the hospital.

Nonetheless, Broward schools Chief Public Information Officer Tracy Clark claimed “overall disciplinary incidents have dropped since we adopted the new policy and wraparound supports to students with behavior issues.”

Juvenile crime outside of school also is rising, he writes.

In a related program, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel also agreed to back off arrests of students who commit such crimes outside of schools, offering them civil citations and the same “restorative justice” counseling instead of incarceration, even for repeat offenders.

“Broward County now has the highest percentage of ‘the most serious, violent [and] chronic’ juvenile offenders in Florida, according to the county’s chief juvenile probation officer,” concludes Sperry.

School districts are under pressure to reduce discipline disparities for disabled students writes Gail Heriot, who serves on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Students are Chronic misbehavior is defined as a disability she writes on Instapundit. “So, of course, they get disciplined more often than non-disabled students.”

I wonder if how discipline disparities would look if students with behavioral disorders were excluded.

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