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SUNRISE (CBSMiami/AP) – A commission investigating the Parkland massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School learned that many of the state’s school districts did not take crime reporting and security assessments seriously before the February slayings.
Ryan Petty’s daughter Alaina was killed during the mass shooting. Petty is part of the committee.
He slammed the Broward School district and it’s reporting from the Florida School Safety Assessment Tool, known as FSSAT.
“I sit here and read the FSSAT that was submitted by Broward County to the Department of Education,” he said. “The more I read the angrier I get. If this took the district more than 30 minutes to copy and paste the nonsense that was submitted to the DOE I would be surprised.”
Stoneman Douglas did file separate crime reports with the state, reporting zero incidents of bullying among its 3,200 students between 2014 and 2017 and three incidents of vandalism.
The commission heard that such underreporting has been common and isn’t penalized.
Max Schachter’s son Alex was also killed in the massacre. He too is concerned about accurate reporting from school districts.
“Between 2014 and 2017,” he said. “Marjory Stoneman Douglas reported zero threats, zero intimidations, zero bullying, everybody’s thinking, ‘we’re living under this fallacy two days prior to the tragedy that Stoneman Douglas and Parkland was the 15th safest place to live in the country,’ it’s just wrong, it’s wrong.”
Committee chair Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said part of the problem is the assessment itself.
He said it basically requires districts to just check boxes. An optional part for the last few years includes assessing the safety at individual schools.
“Out of 3900 schools in 2017, there were 16 done,” Gualtieri pointed out. “There was no school specific report entered for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during that entire period,” he said.
After 17 people were fatally shot at Stoneman Douglas, the Legislature passed a new law requiring all schools do a security assessment. The deadline was Aug. 1 and almost all schools have complied.
The commission wants changes, giving the Florida Department of Education teeth to enforce accurate reporting. “You have to have accurate information, know what’s going on,” said Schachter. “To report zero instances over a three year period is absolutely ridiculous, it’s ludicrous, it’s lies and we need to be told the truth so we can make these schools safer.”
The committee spent much to today behind closed door taking a closer look at the confessed killer’s mental health and background.
The commission will be back in session next month. They have subpoenaed former School Resource Officer Scot Peterson to appear before the committee.
Surveillance video at the time of the shooting shows him taking cover while bullets flew inside the freshman building at Stoneman Douglas instead of going in trying to stop the gunman.
CBS4 News requested to speak with Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie on Thursday about the issue but he declined.
The district did address the reporting issue in a statement saying, “Last school year, the Superintendent reminded school leaders that District protocols require accurate reporting of all student disciplinary infractions in the District’s official student data repositories…”
The District added “schools must document the appropriate interventions and supports for the victims and offenders for every incident.”
Finally, the district told us that these discipline reports will now be part of the audit process.
As for the security assessment, Broward Schools said they have filed their assessment for 2018. The state will consider the assessments when it doles out millions in grant money for security improvements.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)