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Scrap school-based diversion program, Stoneman Douglas commission says

Scott Travis, Sun Sentinel on

Published in News & Features

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Broward County schools' controversial Promise program should be shut down or merged with other diversion programs, a state commission recommended Wednesday.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, which is investigating the Parkland tragedy, agreed that all programs that allow children to avoid being arrested should fall under the state attorney's office.

"This would scrap school-based diversion programs," said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, the chairman of the commission.

Law enforcement-run diversion programs for youth, known as civil citations, would continue. Commission members say these programs are better tracked, and there's more accountability.

The district's Promise program allows students who commit certain misdemeanors to complete a program at an alternative school in lieu of being arrested. Promise received national acclaim during the Obama administration, has faced scrutiny since the Parkland mass shooting on Feb. 14, 2018.

Commission members blasted the district's decision in March to stop entering student offenses into a Department of Juvenile Justice database, as required by law for diversion programs, by saying Promise was an "alternative to external suspension" program, not a diversion program.

 

The commission is also asking the state Legislature to clearly define diversion programs, to prevent Broward from trying to skirt state law.

(c)2019 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

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