BCPS board members unanimously vote to postpone final decision in maintaining ‘Promise’ program – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports | Fort Lauderdale


FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) – A youth program designed to provide alternative education to students with non-violent behavioral infractions is getting an overhaul.

Promise, the arrest diversion program, had a lot of support when it was first brought to Broward County Public Schools, but then fell out of favor as it gained controversies.

On Tuesday, the board decided unanimously to postpone the decision.

“All in favor say ‘Aye’,” said BCPS Chair Lori Alhadeff. “Aye,” everyone responded. “All who oppose say ‘No’… Item passes unanimously.”

Critics said that the 10-year-old program is ineffective and they can’t shake its link to its most notorious enrollee — the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school killer, Nikolas Cruz.

“We were supposed to have a school-to-prison pipeline committee,” said Harold Pryor, the Broward County State Attorney. “We had one meeting, then there was a follow-up request, then we had a meeting with all the stakeholders and we have yet to have that meeting. And here today, we had this on the agenda to vote down Promise program or to even have a program introduced to us as its replacement.”

Supporters pleaded for Broward County Public School Board members to reconsider the benefits for the wider community of the Promise program, which diverts students accused of minor misdemeanor offenses away from the criminal justice system.

Broward County Public Defender Gordon Weekes was frustrated with the board’s decision to postpone.

“It’s very disappointing that we keep having to revisit keeping a program that has shown statistically that it has been valuable that it’s been helpful, that has been successful when it comes to rehabilitating our children, dealing with their disciplinary issues, dealing with their minor acts of misconduct in the school,” said Weekes. “The school system keeps revisiting, trying to remove the program.”

Marsha Ellison, the President of the Fort Lauderdale and Broward Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People also spoke out.

“These new school board members that were appointed, not even knowing anything about Promise, are deciding that this program and our children have no value. without even doing the research,” said Ellison. “We want to make sure we will not go back to being the worst in the state for school-based arrests, suspensions and expulsions of primarily Black and brown children,” she said. “We are not going back there.”

New Broward Schools Superintendent Dr. Peter Licata said he is committed to a solution that works, especially for the 256,000 students of the district.

“You have my commitment that when we come back on [October] 17th, those components will be there and there will be a plan that meets the community’s needs, meets the board’s needs,” Licata said.

The board is planning a town hall meeting to include parents ahead of the October 17th meeting with all the stakeholders.

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