A father whose 18-year-old daughter was killed in the Parkland massacre warns other parents that schools throughout the country may be vulnerable to similar shootings.
Andrew Pollack wrote an opinion about the lax disciplinary policy that he said caused the February 14, 2018 tragedy that left his daughter Meadow and 16 others dead at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The operation came in USA today On Tuesday, the same day, Pollack and co-author Max Eden published their book about unraveling what led to the massive shooting.
& # 39; After my daughter was murdered … I wanted every answer & # 39 ;, Pollack writes.
& # 39; During my research, I realized that this was the most preventable mass murder in American history. And I learned something else that keeps me & # 39; awake at night: the policy that made this massacre inevitable has spread to schools across America. & # 39;
Andrew Pollack, who lost his 18-year-old daughter Meadow in the February 14, 2018, mass footage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, wrote an op-tuesday on Tuesday warning that US schools can be vulnerable to similar recordings
Pollack claimed that the & # 39; disciplinary policy & # 39; from the Broward County school district allowed 19-year-old shooter Nikolas Cruz (photo in March 2019) to slip through the cracks & # 39;
One of the most important questions that Pollack wanted to answer in his research was whether the & # 39; disciplinary policy & # 39; from the Broward County school district the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, allowed & # 39; to slip through the cracks & # 39 ;.
That question and similar were not well received by Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie, who they & # 39; fake news & # 39; mentioned, according to Pollack.
In the aftermath of the shooting, Runcie fiercely denied reports that Cruz, then 19, had been referred to the district's controversial PROMISE disciplinary program, which offered an alternative to arrest for certain crimes committed at school.
The critics of the program claimed it was part of a culture of lax discipline that allowed Cruz to prevent him from being arrested and to easily buy the AR-15 rifle he used for the shooting.
It was only about three months later that the district admitted that Cruz was referred to the high school program, but never completed it.
Runcie defended his earlier false statements due to the confusion due to inefficient administration.
In his opinion, Pollack claims that the initial claim of Runcie & # 39; carefully crafted & # 39; because he said that Cruz never & # 39; in high school & # 39; was referred.
Pollack prosecutes the school officials because she chose not to arrest Cruz, despite his multiple threats to shoot the school and harm fellow students and students claim that he had taken weapons on campus more than once.
Instead, assistant directors chose to ban Cruz from bringing a backpack to school and had him searched by a security guard every time he entered the site.
Although alarming, managers' actions followed the protocol, Pollack says.
& # 39; Browards policy allowed students convicted of crimes as serious as murder and rape to return to normal classrooms & # 39 ;, he writes.
& # 39; Policy 5006 & # 39; van Broward said that referring serious crimes such as sexual violence or arson to the police was optional.
& # 39; Directors are trained not to cooperate with the police and even refuse to tell officers if suspected criminals were on campus. & # 39;
Pollack calls Parkland shooting & # 39; the most preventable mass murder in American history & # 39 ;. His op-ed ran the same day Pollack and co-author Max Eden published their book unraveling which led to the massive shooting, & # 39; Why Meadow Died: The People and Policies that the Parkland Shooter and Endanger America & # 39; s Students & # 39;
A year and a half after the shooting shocked the nation, not much has changed at the school.
Pollack cites a 2019 survey of 1,884 district teachers by the Broward Teachers Union, who found that 50 percent feared for their personal safety in the past two years and 13 percent were attacked in the current school year.
Less than 20 percent of teachers said they thought a student abusing them would be deported or sent to a specialized school, and only 39 percent thought the student would be suspended.
Pollack writes: & # 39; In this environment it was no surprise that the crimes of the Parkland shooter went unpunished. And that his sub-criminal misconduct, which could have given him a ticket for the specialized school where he had to sit so hard, was ignored. & # 39;
& # 39; In addition to the fact that my daughter was killed in the most avoidable school shooting in history, what is me & # 39; Keeping awake at night, the fact that Broward's anti-disciplinary policy has spread to rural schools & # 39 ;, he added.
Pollack then blames President Barack Obama's government for spreading & # 39; anti-discipline policies & # 39 ;.
In January 2014, the Ministry of Justice and the Civil Rights Office of the Ministry of Education began sending a sweet fellow letter encouraging districts to review their zero tolerance policy in an effort to stop the school-to-pipeline.
According to a report from the Manhattan Institute, the DCL of the then education secretary Arne Duncan claimed that: & # 39; (1) school districts are excessively dependent on suspensions; (2) black students are suspended at disproportionately high rates, mainly due to the racial bias of educators; (3) suspensions cause significant long-term damage to students; and (4) schools must restrict traditional discipline (suspensions) in favor of new "restorative" approaches that emphasize dialogue over punishment & # 39 ;.
Proponents of the DCL said it was meant to provide & # 39; non-binding guidance & # 39; to help schools and administrators use discipline in a non-discriminatory way.
Others criticized the letter and said that the resulting reduction in national suspensions fueled classroom disruption and violence on campus.
Pollack is strong in the last camp and claims that the DCL was intended to threaten & force & # 39 ;.
& # 39; Hundreds of school districts serving millions of students were immediately put under pressure, and many more took over for fear of research or simply because fighting the & # 39; school-to-prison pipeline & # 39; by reducing suspensions, deportations and arrests the new, politically correct thing to do was, & he writes.
Pollack accuses President Barack Obama's government of spreading & # 39; anti-discipline policies & # 39; like the one who, according to him, caused the shooting in Parkland. Under Obama (photo in 2014), the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Education of the Civil Rights Office urged districts to review their disciplinary policies in an effort to stop the school-to-pipeline
Pollack claims that this policy prevented Broward officials from taking more drastic action against Cruz, action he thought would have prevented the shooting.
& # 39; About a year before the shooting that cost my daughter's life, (Cruz) was finally driven out of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. But then it was too late & # 39 ;, he writes.
& # 39; Our schools lead disturbed students to normal classrooms and systematically cover up their misconduct through design. & # 39;
Pollack says his new life mission is to educate parents and insist on policy change.
He notes that although President Donald Trump has reversed the leniency policy of the Obama era at the national level, real change must come from the local level.
In the comment, he says to the parents: & # 39; Talk to your teachers to find out what's really going on. Is there a child in your child's class that everyone knows shouldn't be? Do clients sweep problems under the carpet? & # 39;
& # 39; If teachers tell you that this policy is causing problems, talk to your school board and push against them. The only way to keep children safe at school is to inform parents, to participate and to solve the problem. & # 39;
Pollack says his new life mission is to educate parents about school discipline and to push for policy change. President Donald Trump's conservative activist and vocal supporter is pictured at an event in April 2019
Pollack wrote all his findings about the shooting in his new book "Why Meadow Died: The People and Policies that the Parkland Shooter and Endanger America & Students" # 39 ;.
On Monday, he released an excerpt that breaks Cruz's unprecedented educational records.
Data show that the Broward County school district became aware of Cruz & # 39; s obsession with guns and murder years before the massacre, but inadequate policy protocols prevented officials from doing something about it.
The book by Pollack and Eden contains reports from many of Cruz & # 39; s former teachers and classmates who said they were not surprised to hear that he had carried out such a gruesome attack.
She described him as a disruptive student who liked to jump around corners to scare fellow students and often brag about killing animals, starting when he was at Westglades Middle School.
When the Westglades staff heard about the shooting a few years after Cruz left, they said he was even enrolled in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD), given their efforts to get him to a specialized school.
The book contains notes made by Cruz & # 39; s eighth-grade language teacher, Carrie Yon, who is a & # 39; Functional Behavior Analysis & # 39; for the student as part of the admission requirements for the specialized school.
Several of the notes that were recorded between September and November 2013 contain clear evidence of his obsession with guns, murder and death.
The book by Pollack and Eden contains reports from many of Cruz & # 39; s former teachers and classmates who said they were not surprised to hear that he had carried out such a gruesome attack. Cruz can be seen above in an undated yearbook photo
Records from a high school psychiatrist who checked Cruz in the eighth grade included various records of his obsession with guns and murder. Cruz has shared the above photo on Instagram
After a lengthy application process, Cruz was enrolled in February 2014 in Cross Creek, a specialized school with 150 students in class K-12.
His first few months at school were tumultuous, but he calmed down by the fall of 2014.
In April 2015, Cruz told his school psychiatrist, Dr. Nyrma Ortiz, that he wanted to participate in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Core program of MSD.
Dr. Ortiz wrote in her notes: & # 39; interested in (J) ROTC? – not advised. . . Talk about the safety of others / themselves. & # 39;
The following month, Cruz & # 39; Child Study Team & # 39; however, unanimously that he spent two class periods during MSD during the 2015-16 school year.
One of those classes was JROTC – a program that allowed him to practice shooting with an AR-15 air gun, the weapon he would later buy and use to slaughter 17 classmates.
At the end of the excerpt, Pollack and Eden wrote: & # 39; This may sound amazing. But it was all according to policy.
& # 39; The official review of Nikolas Cruz & # 39; s educational history has made no objection to anything you've just read. & # 39;
Officials from the Broward County school district would have denied having done anything to promote the shooting.
Cruz, now 20, is faced with a minimum of prison life without conditional release, and the Florida attorney seeks the death penalty against him.
Cruz, now 20, is confronted with a minimum of prison life without conditional release. The Florida lawyer is demanding the death penalty against him. It is shown in August 2018
In the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, Pollack founded the Meadow Movement, which argues for more school security to prevent future school slaughter.
Unlike the majority of Parkland's proponents, Pollack is a vocal proponent of the National Rifle Association and President Donald Trump and has defended a controversial plan to arm school teachers.
Pollack's daughter Meadow (photo) was one of 17 people killed in the Parkland shooting. She was 18 years old
He made headlines in February 2018 when he and his sons came to the White House to meet Trump and gave an emotionally charged speech, saying he & # 39; pissed off & # 39; was and demanded that politicians protect America & # 39; s school children at all costs.
Three months after the shooting, Pollack filed an unlawful death case against Deputy Scot Peterson, the armed school guard standing outside the building while children were being slaughtered inside.
During court proceedings this summer, Pollack said he would never have sent his daughter to MSD if he knew about Cruz and the dangers he brought.
& # 39; They had to search him every day. They knew he was a threat. And they have subjected all children and my daughter to this. Where were their rights? & # 39; Pollack told South Sun Sun-Sentinel in July.
& # 39; They didn't tell us they allow a child in school that he is so violent and dangerous that we don't let him in with his backpack and we have to search him. But they let this child go to school with our children. & # 39;
FULL EXCERPT FROM PARKLAND DAD & # 39; S & # 39; WHY MEADOW DIED & # 39;
Below is the full excerpt from & # 39; Why Meadow Died & # 39; that can be pre-ordered here.
When Westglades Middle School staff learned that Nikolas Cruz had committed the massacre on Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS, some could not believe it. The fact that he was a mass murderer was not what surprised them, but rather the fact that he had attended that school.
& # 39; How is that possible? & # 39; a Westglades educator remembered the thinking. & # 39; We have done our job. It took forever, but we brought him (to the specialized school) where he had to go. We could not believe that they had ever let him in (Stoneman). & # 39;
Westglades students and staff had never seen anyone like Nikolas Cruz. A student, Paige, remembered the time she met Cruz. They were waiting outside their classroom until their teacher opened the door and Cruz offered her a hug that Paige accepted. Their teacher later pulled Paige aside and warned her: & # 39; Don't touch him. He just got caught while jerking off. & # 39;
If something frustrated Cruz, he would curse and threaten everyone in the neighborhood. He would hide behind corners and doors, jump out and yell at people and then cackle over their fear. Sometimes he burst out in maniacal laughter for no apparent reason.
"Why Meadow Died: The People and Policies that the Parkland Shooter and Endanger America's Students" by Andrew Pollack and Max Eden, will be released on Tuesday, September 10
Another student, Sarah, remembered a time when he threw his chair through a classroom. Later she saw him sitting outside the classroom with his desk tied.
Cruz & # 39; s torture and killing of animals became a source of pride for him when he interacted with other students. One student, Devin, remembered that although he tried to avoid Cruz, Cruz would approach him almost every day and ask: & Do you want to see videos of me who are animals skinning? & # 39; Devin always refused, but Cruz kept asking.
Cruz & # 39; s data suggest that his reign of terror at Westglades Middle School began halfway through his seventh grade, in February 2013. For the following calendar year, Cruz was suspended every other day. Why did the school allow him to remain enrolled despite his daily, disturbed behavior for an entire year? Not through negligence, but through policy.
Students with disabilities are supposed to follow a course in the & # 39; least restrictive environment & # 39; that is possible regardless of whether their disability is that they are dyslexic or a psychopath, and the paperwork requirements to send them to a specialized school can take many months.
Cruz & # 39; s eighth grade language arts, Carrie Yon, kept diligent notes about his behavior for Cruz & # 39; s & # 39; Functional Behavior Analysis & # 39 ;:
Sept 3: When viewing (a) homophones worksheet, when another student mentioned the amendment that speaks about & # 39; the right to bear arms & # 39 ;, Nick (sic) lit up hearing the word that related to guns and yelled & # 39; you mean guns! & # 39; he was overly excited and thought we were going to talk about weapons. Nick later used his pencil as a gun. . . shoot in class.
September 4: Nick drew naked stick figures (with body parts, sexual) and drew photos of people shooting each other with guns.
September 11: After discussions and lectures about the Civil War in America, Nick was fixated on the death and murder of Abraham Lincoln. He asked inappropriate questions and took shooting actions with his pencil. Some questions he asked were: & # 39; What did it sound like when Lincoln was shot? Did the pop doll or pop pop doll go really fast? Was there blood everywhere? What did they do with all bodies after the war? Did people eat them? & # 39;
Sept. 16: When we started reading the Odyssey, Nick paid partial attention (in and out) until we got to the horrible scene when the giant ate the crew of Odysseus, only then Nick was interested in the lesson and got my 100 % attention.
Sept. 27: Another student also told me (after Nick was out of class) that Nick asks him all the time: & # 39; How can I still go to this school? & # 39;
October 1: When talking about figurative language and onomatopoeia, Nick shouted like a shooting. & # 39; Nick will find every excuse to bring up guns or violence. . . He became frustrated and said, "I hate security, I hope they die." Then he said to me: & # 39; F-k you. & # 39; I called security to pick him up immediately.
October 15: spoke to his mother. . . We have discussed that he should not play violent video games and that he should be placed in another school that can help with his behavior and emotional problems. We also talked about his obsession with weapons / violence. She stated that he was interested in buying a BB gun from Walmart and repeatedly asked his mother if he could get the gun and promised that he would just shoot trees & # 39 ;.
October 17: Nick started reading the last pages to the students and deliberately tried to ruin the book for everyone. I asked him to stop and he told me he did not like the book and then he said: & # 39; I like weapons & # 39; can we talk about that? He then continued to read the book aloud again.
On October 24, assistant director Antonio Lindsay came to class to observe Cruz. As soon as Lindsay left the room, Cruz screamed: & # 39; Yes, now I can talk! & # 39; He remained disruptive and Yon said: & I know you can behave. I have seen you. You are a good child. & # 39; Cruz shouted: & # 39; I'm a bad boy! I want to kill! & # 39;
Mrs. Yon gave her opinion for the & # 39; Functional Behavior Analysis & # 39 ;:
& # 39; I am convinced that Nikolas is a danger to the students and the faculty at this school. I don't feel like he understands the difference between his violent video games and reality. He constantly exhibits aggressive behavior and poor judgment. His drawing in the classroom shows violent acts (people who shoot at each other) or creepy sexual photos (dogs with large penises). . . I would like him to be sent to a facility that is more prepared and has the right attitude to handle these types of children. & # 39;
On September 13, 2013, Lindsay sent teachers an email informing them that if Cruz had to leave the classroom to use the toilet, go to the clinic, or for some other reason, the front office should be notified and wait for an escort. Nickolas (sic) may not under any circumstances leave a supervised institution without an escort. & # 39;
In October, Lindsay sent a follow-up email to inform teachers that & # 39; Cruz will be & # 39; in the shade & by his mother when he chooses to run / walk out of the classroom in & # 39; are attempts to prevent problems. & # 39; Teachers were advised to secretly call safety by sending a student to another office for an excuse.
On November 4, after two months of collecting & # 39; data & # 39; for Cruz & # 39; Functional Behavior Evaluation, teachers received his & # 39; Positive Behavior Intervention Plan & # 39; sent. The plan contained useful tips such as:
If Nikolas destroys real estate at a lower level,
- Let him know that he has not met one of the expectations.
- Remember what he works for.
- Ask him to use a cooling card and walk away to spread the situation.
If Nikolas deals with major disruption / destruction of property,
- Let Nikolas know, & you are getting too loud. I want you to regain control by using a cooling pass or by calming down at your desk. When you regain control, you can stay in class. If you continue, I have to let you go (sic). & # 39;
- Walk away and don't mind his behavior.
- Don't argue with Nikolas or talk to him.
- When the lesson is over, Nikolas must go to his next class and the behavior plan must be reset with the ability to earn reward breaks again.
Teachers had to implement this plan for at least six weeks until Cruz could qualify for further evaluation. At the end of November, Cruz tried to commit suicide at school by running into oncoming traffic. But that didn't speed up the process.
School administrators classified the incident as & # 39; minor disruption & # 39; and Cruz remained registered with Westglades for three months. As Mrs. Yon's records show, even Cruz couldn't understand why they held him there for so long.
Cruz wrote in February 2014 in Cross Creek, a specialized school with 150 students in grades K-12, his behavior almost the same in the first semester. Dr. Nyrma Ortiz, a psychiatrist who is consulting with Cross Creek, commented: & he is going to YouTube to investigate wars, military equipment, and terrorist topics. Carries military related items before he goes to school. Parent stated that all these ideas are related to his excessive gaming. & # 39; When asked to describe a perfect summer, Cruz wrote: & # 39; Buy some kind of gun and shoot at targets that I set up with large amounts of ammunition just for fun. & # 39;
Shortly before the summer vacation, therapist Rona Kelly from Ortiz and Cruz took the extremely unusual step of writing to his private psychiatrist:
Dear Dr. Negin,
We are (sic) crazy with his mother's permission, to inform you about some behavioral problems that he continues to show at home and at school. Nikolas continues to present with extreme mood liability. It is usually very irritable and reactive. At school he exhibits oppositional and challenging behavior and has become verbally aggressive in the classroom. He seems to be paranoid and blames others for his behavioral problems. He deals with guns and the army and continues this improperly. At home he remains aggressive and destructive with minimal provocation. For example, he destroyed his television after losing a video game he was playing. Nikolas has an ax that he uses to chop a dead tree in his back yard. Mama has recently been unable to find that ax (sic). When he is upset, he makes holes in the walls and has used sharp tools to cut furniture upholstery and cut holes in the bathroom. According to recent information at school, he dreams of killing others and getting blood or blood. He has been assessed for the need for hospitalization at school and by the YES team at Henderson Behavioral Health. . . We would like you to be aware of current concerns, as you will see him for medication management in the summer and may need to reassess his response (sic) to current medications. In our opinion, his response to medication is limited at best.
The following fall, Kelly called Cruz's mother and & # 39; shared concerns with the parent about obsession with weapons / soldiers and his poor anger control. He continues to apply aggressive behavior at home. Parent was advised not to give him a gun (pellet) or (shooting) lessons for his birthday. Parent advised to limit access to weapons. & # 39;
When the teachers of Cruz were asked what he was interested in or enjoyed, almost all guns mentioned the army or war.
But from October, Cruz seems to have calmed down for a few months, and that was enough to earn him a ticket for Marjory Stoneman Douglas. In April he told Dr. Ortiz that he wanted to register for the Junior Core Core Training program for high school.
Ortiz included, & # 39; interested in (J) ROTC? – not advised. . . Talk about the safety of others / themselves. & # 39;
But the following month, each member of Cruz & # 39; s & # 39; Child Study Team & # 39; to mainstream two classes a day at the start of the 2015-16 school year: one class and JROTC.
Nikolas Cruz could not possibly have made himself clearer. The Broward School staff knew exactly who and what he was. Yet they not only let him register in Marjory Stoneman Douglas, they literally gave him an AR-15 air gun and let him practice shooting.
This may sound surprising. But it was all according to policy. The official assessment of Nikolas Cruz & # 39; s educational history did not register any objections to anything you have just read.
Fragment obtained via The New York Post
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