In an effort to stop the “school-to-prison pipeline” which had snared many black and Latino students, Broward County initiated programs to avoid arresting students who had disciplinary problems in the schools.
This pipeline became a popular topic during the Obama presidency through a belief in the social science statistics which showed many black and Latino students were getting arrested and into the court system, establishing records which hurt them for years to come in terms of higher education and employment.
According to prevailing social science, inequality in resulting arrests is a sign of inequitable application of discipline due to bias in the authorities. The Obama administration told municipalities that the assumption would be that a high rate of arrests for black and Latino students automatically represented oppression, rather than a higher rate of bad behavior among black and Latino students.
Broward County schools once recorded more in-school arrests than any other Florida school system. But that harsh approach fell out of favor amid concerns that it was funneling too many young people — and particularly black and Hispanic students — into the juvenile justice system. Cruz is listed on official documents as being white.
In recent years, Broward schools became a leader in the national move toward a different kind of discipline — one that would not just punish students, but also would help them address the root causes of their misbehavior. Such policies aim to combat what is known as the “school-to-prison pipeline,” giving teenagers a chance to stick with their education rather than get derailed, often permanently, by criminal charges.
Beginning in 2013, Broward stopped referring students to police for about a dozen infractions ranging from alcohol and drug use to bullying, harassment and assault. Instead, students who get in trouble for those infractions are offered an alternative program that emphasizes counseling, conflict resolution skills and referral to community social service agencies.
Far from needing more mental health counseling, it appears that Nikolas Cruz received a massive amount of attention from the school district. He was getting help at least from his time in middle school and more help as he got older:
Teachers began to press school administrators to have Cruz transferred to Cross Creek School, a K-12 public school for students with emotional and behavior disabilities that offers intensive psychiatric counseling…
In February 2014, Cruz was transferred to Cross Creek. In January 2016, after about two years at Cross Creek, he transferred to Douglas High. It’s not clear why he left Cross Creek, a small school tailored for his needs, for a sprawling comprehensive high school of more than 3,000 students.
At Douglas, Cruz got into trouble four times during the first half of the 2016-2017 school year — for fighting, insults and profanity. In September 2016, after a fight, Cruz was referred to social workers. A week later, the Department of Children and Families opened an investigation.
However he was never arrested because the schools had a policy not to arrest for fights and other disruption. If he had been, he would not have been able to buy guns.
I believe gun owners look at these school shootings are the price our society pays to have the freedom for them to own guns. It seems very selfish to me, but I’m not sure if the consequences of disarming our society might not be worse for us all. Maybe that bothers you, but if it does, you might look at this story from the point of view of the freedoms you want preserved. A mentally ill man slipped through our crime prevention net because of a policy which has some sound basis. The students around Nikolas Cruz suspected he would come to the school and shoot them. The teachers feared him. Nikolas Cruz himself believed and told others that he wanted to shoot up the school. The FBI missed it. But it is virtually impossible to commit someone involuntarily for mental health reasons. Do we really want the FBI surveilling and arresting us for what we say on the internet? This case may seem obvious but the chances for abuse are massive for an agency which is weakly regulated. Would it have been better if the net had snared Nikolas Cruz before he killed? It would also have snared many of his classmates and destroyed their futures. What he did was evil. Perhaps our society has judged that what we would do to prevent it is more evil.