A Twitter thread you should read about Broward County

A Broward County student journalist does actual journalism, exposing the multiple bureaucratic failings that led to a brutal school shooting.

Kenneth Preston Broward CountyThis Twitter thread is worth reading not just for its contents, but because the only people who are apparently doing quality journalism nowadays are high school students. Rather than embed all the tweets, I’ve embedded the top tweet and then copied the text from the remaining tweets in the thread.

2) Just to clarify, I’ll be referring to the shooter exclusively by his case number, 18-1958, for the duration of this thread in respect of the families wishes not to give any attention to his name. So, here’s what you need to know.

3) Over the last month, I’ve dug through thousands of government document pages and interviewed dozens of people. I found evidence of two things: over $100m in school safety funds that have gone unspent and policies that keep violent students (like 18-1958) out of jail.

4) First, the money. In 2014, Broward Schools was given an $800m bond, with over $100m specifically for school safety. Since then, delays have led to only 5% of the money spent. Despite safety being the #1 priority of the bond, many projects were delayed to avoid increased cost.

5) In a tweet, Superintendent @RobertwRuncie called our report “fake news” and suggested we contact @FloridaTaxWatch, an independent group tasked with helping to oversee the distribution of the money. So I did. FL TaxWatch VP of Research Bob Nave agreed with my numbers.

6) One of those delayed projects was a $1m fire system for Stoneman Douglas. People familiar with the project told me that the district considered upgrading its systems with an “alarm sequence”, that allows a delay to determine if there’s an actual fire before the alarm triggers.

7) When Stoneman’s fire alarm sounded, students fled from their classrooms directly into the path of the shooter. The “positive alarm sequence” would have kept the alarm from sounding for up to three minutes if it was determined there was no fire, and in this case, there wasn’t.

8) The school resource officer was aware of shots fired within one minute of the alarm. In a situation like this, seconds count. Had the alarm been put in on time and with the suggested upgrade, that delay could have potentially saved students from running into the line of fire.

9) In a meeting with Runcie & officials, I was told the system wasn’t invented when the money was allocated and that it wasn’t suggested until last year. However, the tech has existed since the 80s, and the Fmr Dir. of School Safety recommended a similar system years ago.

10) Part Two of the Investigation: Broward’s discipline policies that help keep potentially dangerous students like 18-1958 in schools and out of jail.

12) In 2013, @browardschools and @browardsheriff signed an agreement to consider alternatives to arrest when dealing with student misconduct. On the agreement’s list, it says that if a crime constitutes a felony, the officer may “consider” placing the student under arrest.

13) This agreement was part of an effort to lower student arrests by reshaping school discipline. As a result, troubled students who previously would have been reported to police are now entered into “rehabilitation programs.” Within years, Broward’s arrest rate plummeted.

14) Even if students aren’t enrolled in these programs, school admins aren’t required to report potentially dangerous students to law enforcement. The current discipline matrix gives administration complete discretion to decide “appropriate consequences” for student misbehavior.

15) An example of the danger in these policies would be middle school student Jayla Cofer, who was attacked so brutally that she was hospitalized with bruised legs, torn skin, and deep wounds. Her attackers were never arrested, but instead placed in a rehabilitation program.

16) More recently, two students from Flanagan High claimed that a fellow student was threatening to kill over 20 people. The student was briefly suspended and allowed to return back to campus alongside the students he threatened to kill. The list goes on.

17) Similar to these incidents, 18-1958 was never arrested despite threatening to kill students, bringing bullets to school, and being involved in multiple fights. Had he been charged and convicted, he likely wouldn’t have had access to weapons he used.

18) After I presented this info, the Superintendent and Board took time to defend themselves instead of allowing survivors to speak. The Superintendent praised music, athletic and tech programs, but failed to acknowledge that all of those programs were prioritized over safety.

19) Board Member @ReverendRos went as far as to suggest that our inquiry into these concerns was an exploitation of bloodshed for “personal gain”. She’s the same board member who removed her kids from the school district over “safety concerns.”

20) Ultimately, it was the shooter and only the shooter who’s responsible for killing 17 and injuring 17 more. It’s also true, however, that the officials tasked with keeping our children and teachers safe have failed in that essential role.

21) Despite these failures, there hasn’t been a single change in leadership. Parkland and this community deserve leaders who put our children first. In the coming weeks, we’ll announce our plans to do exactly that. We have mourned, we have marched, and now we mobilize.

This is top-flight journalism showing government failures every step of the way. Those who want more government are going to get more of this, only on a vaster scale with infinitely greater negative consequences.


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