Laura Ingraham examines an initiative called the 'PROMISE Program' that reduced the number of school-related arrests in Broward County Public Schools. In 2011-2012, BCPS had the highest number of student arrests in Florida but after the superintendent implemented the program arrests plummeted.
PROMISE gave school administrators the power to decide whether infractions were deemed worthy of involving the policy rather than following guidelines that were previously in place. PROMISE stands for 'Preventing Recidivism through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education.'
The program was praised by the Obama administration and the school district was awarded $54 million in grants from the $4 billion 'Race to the Top' initiative.
Ingraham listed the infractions that the 'PROMISE Program' prevented police from getting involved in: Alcohol-related incidents, assault, threat, bullying, disruption on campus, drug use, possession, under the influence, drug paraphernalia, possession, false accusation against school staff, fighting, mutual combat, harassment, thefts, trespassing, vandalism and damage to property.
According to a pamphlet by BCPS, the 'Promise Program' was implemented in an effort to "eliminate the school-to-prison pipeline."
Arrests went from 1,056 students in 2011-2012 to 392 in the 2015-2016 school year.
"The Obama Administration Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder were so impressed by the PROMISE Plan that it inspired their own new national guidelines," Ingraham reported.
Holder hailed the program for discarding "unnecessarily harsh discipline policies" for "really minor infractions" that led students to "feel unwelcome."
"Too often, so-called zero-tolerance policies, however well-intentioned they might be, make students feel unwelcome in their own schools. They disrupt the learning process, and they can have significant and lasting negative effects on the long-term well-being of our young people," Holder said.
"It's an excellent program," Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said as late as last week.
"By turning Broward Schools and those across the nation into these social justice petri dishes, they may have facilitated a lunatic. And their soft policies have turned our schools into soft targets," Ingraham said.
"The Obama bureaucrats incentivized Broward to go even further, awarding the district nearly $54 million in grants to improve the lives of students in poverty and students of color," she said. "The standard to show that their lives are actually improving? Fewer arrests at schools, less police involvement, fewer disciplinary problems, at least on paper. So, school administrators were basically paid to deal with student crime in-house and keep the cops off the premises."
From the Thursday broadcast of the Ingraham Angle:
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS: Broward's broken PROMISE program and its deadly effects. That's the focus of tonight's angle.
The more we learn about the school shooting in Florida, the more it appears that a Broward County invention may have played a role in what happened. And what am I talking about?
In 2013, Broward County and their new school superintendent, Robert Runcie had a novel idea. Lower school expulsions and arrests by reducing police involvement. Sounds simple. They called it the PROMISE Program -- Preventing Recidivism through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education. It's quite an acronym.
You see, in 2011 into 2012 school year, Broward had the highest public school related arrest record in the state. More than 1,000 kids in that year alone were arrested. The Obama Administration Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder were so impressed by the PROMISE Plan that it inspired their own new national guidelines.
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: As it stands, far too many students, far too many students across this country are diverted from the path to success by unnecessarily harsh discipline policies and practices that exclude them from school for really minor infractions. Too often, so-called zero tolerance policies, however well-intentioned they might be, make students feel unwelcomed in their own schools. They disrupt the learning process, and they can have significant and lasting negative effects on the long-term wellbeing of our young people.
INGRAHAM: Well, I'd say a violent kid whose outbursts are tolerated week after week leading years later to a school shooting also has lasting negative effects on young people and disrupts the learning process, Eric.
But I digress. The Obama bureaucrats incentivized Broward to go even further, awarding the district nearly $54 million in grants to improve the lives of students in poverty and students of color. The standard to show that their lives are actually improving? Fewer arrests at schools, less police involvement, fewer disciplinary problems, at least on paper. So, school administrators were basically paid to deal with student crime in-house and keep the cops off the premises.
Had Nicolas Cruz been arrested or charged by police for bringing knives or bullets to school or for other various infractions, threats and so forth, he might not have been able to buy that gun he used to kill 17 people. When CNN's Jake Tapper pressed Sheriff Scott Israel about his office's approach to student crime, he said this.
SCOTT ISRAEL, SHERIFF, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA: What you are referring to is the PROMISE Program and it's giving the school -- the school has the ability under certain circumstances not to call the police, not to get the police involved on misdemeanor offenses and take care of it within the school. It's an excellent program.
INGRAHAM: Now, what did we expect he was going to say? Until it helps a mass killer maintain a clean record up to the time of his shooting, that is. Broward County Sheriff Union President Jeff Bell revealed this to me last week.
JEFF BELL, BROWARD COUNTY SHERIFF UNION PRESIDENT: They don't want the police officers making arrests on campus and they don't want the drugs to be found on campus and they don't want the warrants to be served on campus because it looks like there is bad stats at the school. So, I place a lot of blame on the school board with that and some of the programs that they have initiated with the state attorney and the sheriff's office in the years past, for example the PROMISE Program.
The problem is, when that program started, we took all discretion away from the law enforcement officers to effect an arrest if we choose to.
INGRAHAM: That was stunning. Now, Broward School Superintendent Robert Runcie, Sheriff Israel, and the Obama bureaucrats that created this perverse incentive to hide student criminality or down play it have a lot of explaining to do.
By turning Broward Schools and those across the nation into these social justice petri dishes, they may have facilitated a lunatic. And their soft policies have turned our schools into soft targets. And that's the Angle.
Joining me now for reaction from New York City is Shavar Jeffrey, President of Democrats for Education Reform and a supporter of the PROMISE Program, and also in New York is Michael Faulkner. He is a PROMISE critic, a former teacher at King's College and Liberty University, and pastor of New Horizon Church in New York City. It's great to see both of you gentlemen.
I want to go through a list of incidents that occur in schools down in Broward County that qualify for the PROMISE Program, meaning law enforcement won't be involved. Here's the list: Alcohol-related incidents, assault, threat, bullying, disruption on campus, drug use, possession, under the influence, drug paraphernalia, possession, false accusation against school staff, fighting, mutual combat, harassment, thefts, trespassing, vandalism and damage to property.
We'll start with you, Michael. What about this? I mean, it led to a big drop in arrests. I could tell you they had 1,056 arrests from 2011 to 2012. Skip forward 2015 to 2016, I think we have the full screen. That number goes down to 392. Kids started really behaving well, I guess.
MICHAEL FAULKNER. PROMISE CRITIC: Well, yes, obviously they didn't start behaving well, but we started seeing less arrests and therefore the numbers go down. It's a numbers game that we are playing, and unfortunately, when you play the numbers' game, ultimately you lose because those 17 lives that were lost can be directly attributed to the lower standards that were created and setting of the tone that actually lowered the standards on what law enforcement should be involved with.
Now, I was a juvenile detention chaplain in New York City. I understand. I have worked with children who have had troubles and troubled background and so forth. I understand. I get it. Every kid doesn't need to be thrown in jail, for their first infraction or second infraction. But when I set a tone and begin to allow school officials to deal with all of those specific issues, you are setting us up -- all of us up for a catastrophic problem which we saw.
SHAVAR JEFFREY, PRESIDENT OF DEMOCRATS FOR EDUCATION REFORM: I'm going to call BS on this. This is frankly absurd. The President Obama guidance was designed to deal with minor infractions at the school level. So, the kind of activities that are the everyday sort of activities we see from kids, maybe it is a low level after school fight, low-level vandalism. These are issues that are not law enforcement issues. These are issues where a school personnel or teach should work with young people to keep them on the right path.
That's very different with what we had in the shooter in Florida who trafficked assault weapons, who was found on school grounds with weapons, who on multiple reports went to the FBI and did go to law enforcement about this young person's inclination towards violence, and the real fundamental problem we have here is that we have a culture of readily access to assault weapons where this young man could go and purchase the assault weapon as if he bought a bag of potato chips.
INGRAHAM: Shavar, I understand that argument, and I understand it well, however, had he been arrested, he would not have been able to purchase a weapon or multiple weapons.
JEFFRY: Then you should ask the Trump FBI why they didn't arrest him when they got multiple reports that this young man was making violent threats.
INGRAHAM: Right, and what we are saying.
JEFFREY: Which was after he was expelled at school, so it wasn't even a school-based issue.
INGRAHAM: And what parents have told me about from Broward is that the push here is minimize at all cost, involvement with the police. Because if you show a disparate impact on minority kids versus non-minority kids with disciplinary matters, guess what Eric Holder said? Remember that big peach he gave and what everyone took from that was, you could be subject to a Federal Civil Rights investigation.
If they see there is a disparate impact in discipline, that's what's on the mind of these school administrators.
JEFFREY: Well, that's because we have a.
INGRAHAM: They were very afraid of that.
JEFFREY: But that's because we have a history for nonviolent offenses of African-Americans and Latino kids being disproportionately suspended and expelled for low-level offenses that white kids receive other types of interventions for, that's what that was about. That is very different from when there is credible reason to believe that a young person may engage in deadly violence. That is fundamentally different. A low-level after school fight or vandalism.
INGRAHAM: Superintendent work with Arne Duncan, Shavar, and Michael, you can get up -- Arne Duncan, the Education Secretary for Obama, he and Runcie were like totally on the same page. And in fact, the PROMISE Program was the inspiration for what Eric Holder announced in January of 2014. This was focusing on school discipline and a racial disparity. And the goal was reduce the involvement of police because you had been seeing these disparate impacts.
JEFFREY: That is correct for low level offenses, yes. We shouldn't.
INGRAHAM: This is considered low-level. This stuff is considered low level.
JEFFREY: But this kid was expelled before for these very reasons.
FAULKNER: And clearly, clearly, this incidence with the Cruz case falls outside of that. There were a lot of balls dropped. There were a lot of people that dropped a lot of balls, and there's a lot of "blame" to go around. But we have to get back on track now. Where do we go from here? I think we have to talk about what we are going to do going forward to prevents this from ever happening. We have got to make schools safer. We have got to do everything that we can do to make those environments as safe as they can be by.
INGRAHAM: Yes, well, how about this? I have an idea, how about -- real simple, if you are threatening people, and if you bring bullets in a backpack, and.
JEFFREY: Hello, and he was expelled for those reasons.
INGRAHAM: Like you are going to shoot up a school, you should be off campus and you should be.
JEFFREY: And the young man was expelled. So, if you want to start expelling fourth grade kids because they get in a little basic fight, there is nothing if the Obama (inaudible) that precluded.
INGRAHAM: Old trick, but it's not what we are talking about.
JEFFREY: There is nothing in the Obama guidance that precluded a school official from making referrals to a cop if they thought this young man was going to kill people. That is very basic.
INGRAHAM: But the atmosphere.
JEFFREY: But (inaudible).
JEFFREY: Violence, they could have made a referral to the police officer, there is nothing Obama guidance that preclude that.
INGRAHAM: Shavar, the atmosphere that was created, this is what I am trying to say, it's really simple, the atmosphere at that school was keep it on the low down. Keep this stuff under wraps because we don't want to go back to the reputation we had before with 1,000 arrests. This kid is a problem. Shuttle him off somewhere else.
JEFFREY: If this kid is the problem is.
INGRAHAM: That's what is going on here, in a.
JEFFREY: I am calling BS on this attempt to divert from the real problem, which is this young man could buy an assault weapon like is he buying a bag of potato chips and murder young people in school in a matter of minutes. That is the real problem.
INGRAHAM: Okay, all right. Well, do you think that -- Michael, do you think that the schools across the country generally have racist disciplinary policies? Do you believe that?
FAULKNER: I think there is a history of racist discipline policies in schools, yes. And the criminal justice system. I absolutely do.
INGRAHAM: So, it's all racist.
JEFFREY: Obviously, Ms. Ingraham you know very little of American history around race if you don't think there's a long history of discriminatory discipline in our public education system. Are you familiar with Brown versus Education? Are you familiar with the kids of (inaudible).
INGRAHAM: Thank you, yes, I am very familiar with it. I appreciate, I don't need a lecture.
JEFFREY: You must not be, if you are unclear about the long legacy of racial discrimination, (inaudible).
FAULKER: I will say this.
JEFFREY: That's what the Obama guidelines was (inaudible).
INGRAHAM: Guys, we've got to wrap. I am sorry, I could go no for an hour and that would be fun, but what I was trying to focus on for like the 10th time, public schools today are having to be sadly for kids, mothers, fathers, they have to provide lunch, breakfast and dinner to a lot of kids. Kids speak in 17 languages in northern Virginia schools. The teachers are managing a lot. And my point is, if someone is a disrupter, we should worry less about what our reputation will look like if the police get involved and less about disparate impact and more about how to keep the kids in the school, white, black, Asian, whatever they are --
SHAVAR JEFFRIES, DEMOCRATS FOR EDUCATION REFORM: Agreed, but the question here is when you bring in the cops. If you are a classroom disruption, that doesn't make you a law enforcement issue. That may mean you need to be suspended, expelled, or dealt with in some other way.
INGRAHAM: All right, guys, we're out of time. We'll have you back on radio. Great segment, as always.