As new information surfaces daily on the broken-ness that led up to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, shock and disgust along with sadness continues to permeate across the nation.
Not only have we been told, as part of the ongoing investigation, that the school resource officer never entered the building while gunfire was blasting but there was massive communications failures within the school. The “communication failure” led police to believe they were tracking the shooter in real time, when in fact they were seeing footage from 20 minutes earlier, the chief said. Cruz had already killed 17 and fled.
There was an abject failure for months, perhaps years leading up to that devastating day at school at all levels of government, including the admission of the FBI. Tip line phone calls or emails to the FBI go to a single center located in West Virginia. From there, it is anyone’s guess where the tips or leads go for further review or investigation. In the matter of the Nicholas Cruz, the tip(s) did not go further.
So, why mention Eric Holder or Arne Duncan?
In an unprecedented, controversial manner, the Obama Administration took action to ensure that race was not a factor in school suspension decisions. Through the Supportive School Discipline Initiative and a “Dear Colleague memo,” the U.S. Justice Department and Education Department under the Obama Administration threatened public school districts with legal penalties in order to change their disciplinary policies. The letter told schools that unlawful discrimination can occur if it has a disproportionate effect on minority students and the school cannot justify the difference. None of these actions went through the traditional rulemaking, regulatory process – or were implemented into law though Congress.
School districts changed disciplinary policies to comply. Since 2011-2012, according to the Manhattan Institute, over 50 of the largest school districts and 27 states changed their laws or policies relating to school discipline.
Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan held a joint press conference to release a “Dear Colleague” letter to school districts issuing guidance on school discipline that will likely encourage districts to make race a significant factor in deciding how to administer punishment.
So, in 2014, the Department of Education in cadence with the Justice Department distributed the policy via the “Dear Colleague” letter.
Each year, significant numbers of students miss class due to suspensions and expulsions—even for minor infractions of school rules—and students of color and with disabilities are disproportionately impacted. The guidance package provides resources for creating safe and positive school climates, which are essential for boosting student academic success and closing achievement gaps.
“Effective teaching and learning cannot take place unless students feel safe at school, “U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “Positive discipline policies can help create safer learning environments without relying heavily on suspensions and expulsions. Schools also must understand their civil rights obligations and avoid unfair disciplinary practices. We need to keep students in class where they can learn. These resources are a step in the right direction.”
The resource package consists of four components:
- The Dear Colleague guidance letter on civil rights and discipline, prepared in conjunction with DOJ, describes how schools can meet their legal obligations under federal law to administer student discipline without discriminating against students on the basis of race, color or national origin;
- The Guiding Principles document draws from emerging research and best practices to describe three key principles and related action steps that can help guide state and local efforts to improve school climate and school discipline;
- The Directory of Federal School Climate and Discipline Resources indexes the extensive federal technical assistance and other resources related to school discipline and climate available to schools and districts; and
- The Compendium of School Discipline Laws and Regulations, an online catalogue of the laws and regulations related to school discipline in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, compares laws across states and jurisdictions.
“A routine school disciplinary infraction should land a student in the principal’s office, not in a police precinct,” Attorney General Eric Holder said. “This guidance will promote fair and effective disciplinary practices that will make schools safe, supportive and inclusive for all students. By ensuring federal civil rights protections, offering alternatives to exclusionary discipline and providing useful information to school resource officers, we can keep America’s young people safe and on the right path.”
Now the PC and protected class policy is in place, but what happens when a student is suspended or expelled? Calls are made, files are open, actions are required for the sake of checkmarks to associated agencies like the Department of Family and Children Services or to probation officers or to alternative school systems, law enforcement or to the FBI.
To what effect?
None as is proven in the case of Nicholas Cruz or how many others. Were RSO’s, school resource officers and police asked to hide or alter evidence in criminal cases around the country? Seems the answer is yes as proven in Broward County schools.
It is an abject failure of systems but also of the broken family units. Government cannot handle these cases well at all, so more robust gun control measures are the solution we are told. Oh yeah….a genderless bathroom policy will solve it all too….bleh.
Wonder if CNN will invite Eric Holder and Arne Duncan to a townhall session?
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