Was Nikolas Cruz, the man who killed 17 in a rampage in a Parkland, Florida high school, put into a deferred-action program called PROMISE after committing earlier offenses? No, said Robert Runcie, superintendent of the school district. No, no, no, no, no.
Well, actually … yes, yes he was:
Broward school district officials admitted Sunday that the confessed Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School gunman was assigned to a controversial disciplinary program, after the superintendent repeatedly claimed Nikolas Cruz had “no connection” to the alternative punishment designed to limit on-campus arrests.
Two sources with knowledge of Cruz’s discipline records told WLRN he was referred to the so-called PROMISE Program for a three-day stint after committing vandalism at Westglades Middle School in 2013.
When asked for a response, a spokeswoman for Superintendent Robert Runcie stated on Friday that district administrators were aggressively analyzing Cruz’s records. Then Tracy Clark said on Sunday afternoon the district had “confirmed” Cruz’s referral to PROMISE after he vandalized a bathroom at the middle school on Nov. 25, 2013.
WLRN’s Jessica Bakeman reminds readers and listeners that Runcie had unequivocally stated just a month ago that Cruz had never been part of the PROMISE program. Runcie further accused those of deliberately creating a “fictitious narrative” who pointed at the program as the reason why both the school district and the Broward County Sheriff had never referred Cruz for prosecution despite dozens of interventions with the troubled and dangerous student:
“Let me reiterate this point,” Runcie started off during an interview in his office last month. “Nikolas Cruz, the shooter that was involved in this horrific accident at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, had no connection to the PROMISE program.”
During the same conversation, Runcie said: “I’m not going to allow a shift from what our focus needs to be to a fictitious narrative that’s being made up about a successful program that we have in Broward County that has no connection to the shooter or the situation at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.”
We’re getting fictitious narratives, all right, but it’s not coming from critics. Almost ever since the shooting ended, both the school district and the sheriff has been pointing fingers away from themselves and misleading the public about the number of opportunities they had to address the danger from Cruz.
Now we find out that not only did Runcie mislead people again, but that Cruz had been in that program more than four years prior to the shooting. Students have repeatedly said that Cruz’ problems escalated during his years in school, and both the school district and sheriff’s office continued to conduct interventions. And yet, even with the failure of the PROMISE referral, they didn’t do one thing that could have kept Cruz from obtaining a weapon — they never prosecuted him for crimes or have him committed for observation. Instead, they stood around and watched Cruz’ danger develop into a deadly time bomb that could have been defused at nearly every turn — or at least contained.
Marco Rubio is not happy about the lies:
I was repeatedly told that the Parkland shooter was never in the Promise Program I was asking questions about. Now it turns out that in fact he was. https://t.co/q1JTbDXoU3
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 7, 2018
How many more lies are being told by Broward County public officials? The father of one of the victims wonders, too, and also wonders why this information got released on a Sunday (via Twitchy):
This is a stunning revelation & one that flies in the face of previous statements. That the District released it on a Sunday is all the more concerning.
— Ryan Petty (@rpetty) May 7, 2018
Conflicting discipline programs within the district have created deadly chaos for our children, teachers & staff. Educators from around Broward county are sharing their stories with me. It’s heartbreaking.
— Ryan Petty (@rpetty) May 7, 2018
The prevarications alone surrounding this program should be enough to put an end to it. And they should be enough to put an end to the public careers of those who attacked critics as fabulists while either being too incompetent to check their records first or flat-out lying through their teeth.