FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Broward County public schools leaders on Tuesday defended the district's controversial PROMISE program saying the number of participating students and the number of repeat offenders is down.
The program has been under scrutiny since the investigations of the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School revealed the gunman was referred to the program in 2013 for vandalism, but never attended.
School Board Member Patricia Good believes in the program, which aims to keep troubled students out of jail for minor offenses such as vandalism,
"I think the numbers speak for themselves. I think it's pretty powerful the information,” Good said. “The alternative the future for many of these students without promise would not be promising."
Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie of Broward County Public Schools said the County’s discipline policy in the district is not the PROMISE program; it’s a subset of that.
"It's unfortunate that this tragedy we've had has been politicized,” Runcie said.
School board leaders and Tanneil Decoste, the mother of a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student, expressed frustration saying criticism of the program is misplaced and takes away from more serious reforms needed, which include school safety.
"What happened at MSD PROMISE didn't do that,” Decoste said. “It was mental health issues and we need to fix it."
The district reported that in 2017 out of the more than 220,000 students in the County 1,942 students were in the PROMISE program and that nearly 90 percent didn't re-offend and only 46 students committed 3 or more PROMISE incidents.