FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – School district officials acknowledged that under a new proposal, there will be some significant changes to the Promise program.
They say the changes proposed to the pre-arrest diversionary program will make it stricter and include greater information sharing between the school, law enforcement and state officials.
Broward School district leaders summed up the changes to the district’s Promise program by saying there would be much harsher punishments.
The Promise program came under scrutiny after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, when it was found that confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz was referred to the program at one point but never attended it.
The program was put in place to keep students out of the criminal justice system and give them a chance to get their acts together in an alternative school setting.
But some of the families of the Parkland victims say the Promise program led to a culture of leniency in Broward schools.
Mickey Pope is the school district’s chief support student initiative and recovery officer.
“We really can expect to see and have been seeing more arrests, more suspensions, more expulsions as a result of all of those pieces,” said Pope.
Among the proposed changes to Promise:
-More than 1 misdemeanor must be referred to threat assessment team to determine if it should be referred to police
-PROMISE incidents “shall accrue through 12th grade” with a max of 3 referrals. In the past referrals to Promise got reset each year,
-PROMISE incidents would be reported to Florida Department of Juvenile Justice
Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was murdered at MSD, has been a vocal critic of the Promise program.
He wants to also see law enforcement involved in the implementation of the program.
“You have to have law enforcement sit in on it at the table when they come together to put a program together for the kids that sets them up for success,” Pollack said.
Broward School leaders acknowledged that their proposals likely won’t satisfy everyone.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission which investigated the shooting that took 17 lives said that a referral to the promise program would likely not have stopped the confessed shooter from getting a gun and carrying out the attack.
Also at Tuesday’s workshop, the chair of the Stoneman Douglas Safety Commission, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, gave the school board members an overview of the commission’s work.
It led to emotional moments.
Gualtieri also gave board members and the community a sober reminder.
“There’s a couple of things that I can assure you,” Sheriff Gualtieri said. “It’s not a question of whether it’s gonna happen again. It’s a question of when and where. The ultimate question we should be asking is what we are we doing differently today that’s gonna cause a different outcome.”
There would also be fewer offenses that would qualify for the Promise program.
Bullying, harassment and making false accusations against school staff would no longer be eligible for the program.
The school district has promised an annual audit of school discipline programs.
This is a proposal at this point. It will need to go through a few more steps before being approved.