Violent Attack in Fla. School Shows Danger of Obama-Era Discipline Policy

November 21, 2018

by Karen R. Effrem, MD


Andrew Pollack — father of Meadow Pollack, one of the seventeen students and staff murdered in the Parkland shooting last February — recently posted a two-part video of a fight at Monarch High School in Broward County, Florida:

The perpetrator of this barbaric behavior only received a civil citation from the school district. It was not until the video in the tweets above was sent to the Coconut Creek Police Department that the assailant was arrested for battery. This incident and the way it was handled perfectly and simply encapsulates why the PROMISE program and the guidance from the Obama administration Justice and Education Departments is so misguided and dangerous and must be rescinded.

Many others and I have written extensively on this topic. Here are several key summary points available in my formal comments submitted to the federal School Safety Commission:

  • Federal influence on state and local school-discipline policies actually dis-incentivized arrests of troubled students (especially minority and disabled).
  • Multiple, politically diverse sources have described how dangerous classrooms are for students trying to learn and staff trying to teach in and promote a safe, orderly school environment:
    • Manhattan Institute Fellow Max Eden, quoting the Buffalo Teachers Federation safety survey in congressional testimony: “Students are threatening teachers with violence and in many cases are physically attacking teachers without consequences.”
    • Politico: “…teachers [have] said that such policies keep dangerous children in schools, posing a physical threat to students and staff and creating a disruptive learning environment.”
    • Bloomberg News op-ed: “States and districts ought to intervene when schools unfairly target minorities for punishment. But basing that judgment on whether schools have higher rates of punishment for minorities than for white students applies a dangerously blunt standard, which runs the risk of leading schools to be too tolerant of disruptive and dangerous behavior.”
  • Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), especially the school-wide version of the program, is far from the best idea for improving discipline for many reasons, including:
    • The federal support center for PBIS admits it is still experimental, meaning that there are no controlled trials and untrained school personnel are engaging in very sensitive personality-changing interventions without any evidence of improvement, but even more importantly without parental consent:
      • Most experts agree that school-wide PBIS is in its infancy. [Emphasis added]
      • “Because the roots of PBS are in applied experimental analysis of behavior, the evidence for PBS, at this time, is primarily derived from single subject designs…”

Pollack rightly says in his tweets that these kind of diversionary justice programs allow violent students “to go undetected/unpunished in the school system,” and that “the Promise program implemented by the Obama admin allows schools to apply lighter punishments & conceal incidents like this.”

He firmly believes, that “these diversionary programs led to the murder of my daughter and 16 other kids.” Based on theses videos, the evidence presented here, and much more, he has significant justification for that statement.

We must do a better job to protect students and teachers so that teachers may teach and children may learn. If you live in Florida, contact Governor-elect DeSantis and urge him to hold Broward Superintendent (and Arne Duncan protégé) Robert Runcie, as well as the Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, accountable for these blatant, dangerous failures. And wherever you live, please take the time to send these videos to the School Safety Commission at safety@ed.gov, asking them to rescind the Obama era discipline guidance and urging them to seek the repeal of the PROMISE program in ESSA by Congress. The life of someone you care about in the public schools may depend on it.


Dr. Karen Effrem and her husband have three children. She is trained as a pediatrician and serves as national education issues chairman for Eagle Forum and president of Education Liberty Watch.

Archive: Karen R. Effrem, MD

6 comments on “Violent Attack in Fla. School Shows Danger of Obama-Era Discipline Policy”

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  • Dee says:

    There may have been a teacher in the room. In Illinois at least, we are to call for the crisis team. Teachers are not trained to break up fights. And students are required to stay out of it too and remain in their seats. This is how it is now. The general public has no idea of what’s really happening in schools. It’s sad and terrifying. This is my last year. I’m out. I can’t take any more.

  • Liberty Chick says:

    I have a letter written for my Grandfather in the 19-teens recommending him to go to H.S. It wasn’t automatic back then. Those not recommended went to trade schools or apprenticeships.

    I meet more teachers getting out of teaching. The Dept of Ed and Common Core have destroyed the education system. When that came out I thought “this is the end of another middle class job – soon it will all be recorded and they will have technicians/babysitters in the classroom.

    The kids are out of control, and so are their parents. I have a hard time imagining that the girl beating up the smaller girl never did anything like that before in her life. Looks like a pattern. And I can’t believe no other kids in that room came to help her, or to go get an adult. Sickening.

    BTW: if you get a chance watch the film “The Cartel”. It’s about the education system, focusing on NJ. They state in there that while the US was the best education system in the world, it was now #26 behind Poland. And that the NJ system was the best in the country, now it’s one of the worst, and the most expensive. Good flick to watch…

    Trailer:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzIfTmD8UUc

  • Brenda says:

    Also why was that big girl allowed in school wearing hardly any clothes. Should have been sent home instead of just being given a sheet r something to cover up with. I bet the smaller girl was telling her she shouldn’t have come to school looking like that when she got mad but it’s true.

  • Brenda says:

    Where was the teacher? I heard one student say watch the door. The others should have been charged too for doing that & not trying to stop the fight to help the other girl. No matter what had caused this the smaller girl had no chance against the taller heavier girl who looked like a giant.

  • Jim says:

    The kids have turned into animals with no sense of purpose or direction. We have lost many of them to inadequate parenting, and they’re raised with a sense of entitlement.

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