(City Journal) -- In the aftermath of the horrific shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, political debate has focused almost exclusively on the role of guns in American society. Largely ignored is the question of what role Broward County’s overhauled approach to school safety played in the total system failure leading up to the massacre, in which authorities took no action on repeated warnings about the eventual shooter.
In an effort to combat the “school to prison pipeline,” schools across the country have come under pressure from the federal government and civil rights activists to reduce suspensions, expulsions, and in-school arrests. The unintended consequences of pressuring schools to produce ever-lower discipline statistics deserve much more examination.
Florida’s Broward County, home to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, was among the leaders in this nationwide policy shift. According to Washington Post reporting, Broward County schools once recorded more in-school arrests than any other Florida district. But in 2013, the school board and the sheriff’s office agreed on a new policy to discontinue police referrals for a dozen infractions ranging from drug use to assault.
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