Below is and op-ed column by Delegate Pat McDonough. The column is published as written.
Nicolas Cruz attracted the police’s attention 39 times, transferred high schools on 6 occasions and was disciplined for numerous reasons. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School did not record any of Cruz’s incidents and the Broward County Sheriff’s Department office exercised the same lax policy. Because Cruz was not arrested just once for disorderly conduct and the schools promoted a “soft student conduct code,” the red flags did not appear. These failures allowed Cruz to buy a firearm.
In 2014, the Obama Administration released a Dear Colleague letter to 99 school superintendents across America. The Obama policy promoted lenient discipline, lack of disclosure and tolerance of repeat offenses. Part of the program included a diversionary action for repeat offenders that would allow up to 14 misdemeanors before law enforcement could make an arrest. Inside the schools themselves, bullying and intimidation did not suffer consequences or reporting. The Broward County school district was on the cutting edge of Obama’s push to decriminalize school discipline. The Obama administration threatened to investigate schools that failed to address disparate discipline rates for minority students.
They investigated hundreds of schools serving millions of students for the purpose of forcing change in the traditional student conduct codes, according to Manhattan Institute Senior fellow Max Eden.
Peter Kirsonow, a member of the Commission on Civil Rights said, “The Obama approach has produced a stunning increase in the number and gravity of offenses with negative consequences for learning and safety. In my opinion, this “soft on safety” philosophy would actually cause young people to move toward a life of crime because of the lack of punishment rendered when they make early mistakes.
The scary and sad part is that Baltimore County Schools Superintendent Dallas Dance embraced the Obama “soft on safety” policy. Ever since that fatal mistake, the violence, bullying and disruptive incidents have been increasing. According to a Fox 45 “Project Baltimore” investigation, the incidents have increased by 35% in Baltimore County.
It is my position that Baltimore County needs a new student conduct code and safety program period. As County Executive, I will implement TS, total security, which includes professional law enforcement officers, modern technology and comprehensive training for every school. This will be backed up by a strict and practical student conduct code. We can debate gun violence and mental health until the cows come home, but the first obligation of the County Executive is to make sure the children, teachers and staff are safe. I will fund these programs by reducing the financing for computers and tablets which cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars every year.
It is dishonest for leaders in control of our young people to influence them by imposing political agendas masquerading as protests. Students should not be released from schools to march in a protest that has one viewpoint. Grassroots demonstrations generally are not organized by government (school systems and mayors) but against government.
The reaction to the tragedy in Florida must be debated and discussed within the confines of the school. The Constitution, Second Amendment, mental health and other related subjects should be reviewed in a teaching environment. Finally, the Obama policies must be eliminated because their potential to contribute to more violence is still alive in Baltimore County and across the nation.
Delegate Pat McDonough, Candidate for Baltimore County Executive