Published October 8, 2019 by Mike Brake (OCPA)
The recent action of Enid Public School administrators who fired a school resource police officer for seeking prosecution of at least two students who had threatened classmates sent precisely the wrong signal, nationally known school safety crusader Andrew Pollack has told OCPA.
“With this message that schools should not hold even the most dangerous students accountable spreading throughout the whole country in our public schools, parents would do well to do whatever they can to send their kids to a private or charter school or even homeschool them,” Pollack said.
Pollack’s daughter Meadow was one of the 17 students and staff members killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 18, 2018, when former student Nikolas Cruz opened fire. Since then Pollack has become a vocal advocate of tougher school disciplinary policies that could have prevented Cruz from arming himself and from having access to the school—policies starkly different from those being pursued in Enid.
Pollack’s new book, Why Meadow Died: The People and Policies That Created The Parkland Shooter and Endanger America’s Students, is an indictment of the kind of lax school disciplinary policies that have spread throughout public education since they were first promoted under the Obama administration.
Pollack has formed a national grassroots organization dubbed CLASS—for Childrens’ Lives and School Safety—which promotes an eight-point series of reforms that would help prevent future school shootings.
Those points include securing school perimeters and entryways with barriers and metal detectors, placing armed security officers and volunteer safety patrols within schools, communicating with parents, creating a reporting hotline to elicit warnings of potential shooters, appointing a district-wide school safety specialist, and boosting mental health services and programs to identify and divert potential shooters.
In the Enid case, the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) has filed a complaint which is likely the precursor to a lawsuit on behalf of former school system police chief Mike Dods, who said he was warned and ultimately fired for reporting potential student threats to the district attorney.
Pollack said he found that encouraging, given that teacher unions have tended to support the soft school disciplinary codes.
In the first case, Dods arrested a male student who had made multiple threats to female classmates and who had asked a school custodian about door locks and access to the roof. That resulted in a no-contact court order that prohibited the suspect from coming into contact with the female students.
When classes resumed this fall, Dods said the student began violating that order, but school administrators ordered him not to arrest the student or he would be fired. When he did report the violations to the DA, Dods said he was told to “get in line.”
In a second case, Dods said he confronted a student waving scissors and threatening others, but was ordered to take no legal action. When he did forward the case for possible prosecution, he was demoted and then fired.
The Enid cases are disturbingly similar to the many red flags that Cruz raised during his time as a student in Parkland, and which Pollack says resulted in no legal referrals that could have resulted in criminal convictions that could have in turn precluded Cruz from buying the murder weapon.
Read the complete story on OCPA