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Broward County Public Schools Faces Scrutiny Over Promise Program

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Broward County Public Schools is under pressure after the Parkland school shooting. Questions are being asked about the school district’s diversion program that works to keep students from getting arrested, and parents of the victims at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School are running for school board, saying they want to bring more transparency. 

WLRN’s education reporter Jessica Bakeman joins Intersection to explain how the school board is responding to its critics, and how the students are coping as the academic year wraps up.

The school district’s Promise Program is designed to keep kids out of the juvenile justice system for misdemeanors.

“The idea is to help kids to help get at the root of whatever was causing the misbehavior,” says Bakeman.

“There’s a lot of concern coming from parents and teachers about if a student does misbehave at school, if a student does commit a crime at school, are we dealing with them too leniently and so we end up with students who are putting their peers at risk,” says Bakeman.

Lori Alhadeff and Ryan Petty, parents of two shooting victims, are running for the school board in Broward County.

“They’re people who just went through this horrific experience and they’re saying ‘we need to make sure that this never happens again’ and the only way that they feel that they’re going to make sure that happens is if they’re a part of it themselves,” says Bakeman.

Bakeman says that continued threats on social media since the shooting have been a cause for concern to parents and students.

“I’ve talked to parents who said their kids don’t want to leave the house, don’t want to go to school. Everywhere that they go they’re terrified that they’re going to be shot,” says Bakeman.

“Even when the kids are in school, there’s not a whole lot of learning going on in a lot of cases because you have students who are traumatized, you have teachers who are traumatized and they’re trying to help each other deal with the emotional repercussions.”

Education reporting on 90.7 News is supported by Helios Education Foundation