school shooting

Broward schools host day of “service and love” on first anniversary of Parkland shooting

AlyssaAlhadeff

Next month’s Valentine’s Day marks the tragic, one-year anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in which 14 students and three faculty members were slain and 17 others were injured.

The Parkland massacre — one of the nation’s worst mass shootings — sparked a months-long investigation, stricter school-safety requirements and changes to the state’s gun laws.

The horrific event also resulted in the ouster of former Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, whose removal was  one of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ first actions after taking office last week.

Broward schools are planning a series of ways to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the tragedy, including “A Day of Service and Love” at MSD High School.

“It will be a day to give back to the community in honor of MSD’s 17 fallen eagles, the students and staff who were lost one year ago,” the Broward County school board said in a press release highlighting some of the Feb. 14 events.

The Parkland high school will be open from 7:40 a.m. until noon, “during which time students can participate in service projects including serving breakfast to local first responders and packing meals for undernourished children,” according to the release.

At 10:17 a.m., all of the county’s schools — in addition to those in and outside of Broward  — will be asked to join the district in observing a moment of silence “to honor those whose lives were lost and recognize the injured.”

Other highlights of the one-year commemoration include:

At Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School:

  • Students will begin projects at 7:40 a.m. and will dismiss at 11:40 a.m. The school will close at noon.
  • District staff and community partners will provide service-learning activities alongside MSD staff.
  • Mental health staff will be available and the Wellness Center, located on the school’s campus, will be open.
  • Therapy dogs will be available.
  • BCPS Technical Colleges will provide Services with Love to staff and students, including but not limited to manicures, massages, and healthy cooking demonstrations.

At schools throughout the District:

  • Schools will remain open on February 14, 2019.

  • Schools are encouraged to participate in “A Day of Service and Love” and engage students in school-based activities that serve others within their schools or local community. Specific activities will vary per school.

  • The District is providing guidance to school leaders regarding the one-year Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School commemoration.

  • The entire District will observe a moment of silence at 10:17 a.m.

Talking heads on Florida school shooting

IMG_0075Response to last week’s massacre of 17 people at a Parkland high school last week dominated the Sunday morning news shows.

While speaking on New York City’s AM 970, Attorney General Pam Bondi urged individuals to report online threats and comments. The FBI admitted it failed to follow up on at least one report that 19-year-old gunman Nikolas Cruz posed a danger.

“If all our kids are on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and if your child sees something, they have to take it seriously,” Bondi said. “I’d rather you call it in as a parent or as a child and be wrong 100 percent of the time than not call it in.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Reps. Carlos Curbelo, a Republican from Miami, and Ted Deutch, a Democrat whose district includes Parkland, spoke of the need to address gun-safety laws while on ABC’s “This Week.”

“What we need is congressional leaders, specifically in my party, to allow some of these bills to come to the floor for debate,” Curbelo said.

Deutch said lawmakers need to listen to the students that survived the shooting, who have told him they want action.

“The difference this time is that these kids — you’ve spoken to them — the world has heard them, they’re just not going to sit back after what they experienced, after what they saw, the worst things imaginable, they’re not going to just sit back and take it,” Deutch said.

Outspoken survivors of the rampage at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School — the second worst school shooting in the nation’s history — have drawn international attention in their demands for lawmakers to do something about gun laws to prevent future tragedies like the one that took the lives of 14 of their classmates.

About 100 students are scheduled to take buses to Tallahassee Tuesday night, meet with state lawmakers on the following day and hold a rally on the steps of the Old Capitol at noon Wednesday.

“They’re going to stand up for their lives, that’s what this is about, and all of the excuses that are normally given about not getting things done and the difficulty of fighting outside groups and the gun lobby,” Deutch said. “None of that is as powerful as these students.”

Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” David Hogg, a student at the Parkland high school, said he won’t feel safe returning to class, calling out Congress to make “reasonable change” to the nation’s gun laws.

“How many more students are going to have to die and have their blood spilt in American classrooms trying to make the world a better place just because politicians refuse to take action?” Hogg said.

Appearing on the same program as Hogg, Broward County School District Superintendent Robert Runcie said he’d support the use of student records as part of background checks.

“Given what I’ve seen so far, I believe that we need a smarter system,” Runcie said. “We need a smarter infrastructure where various agencies, departments, school systems, they’re working in a more integrated, collaborative fashion to ensure that we can share data, we can share information to enhance our level of effectiveness.”

 Cruz, who has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder in the Parkland shooting, had been kicked out of school. The FBI has acknowledged a failure to follow protocols on a tip received about Cruz, while the Broward County Sheriff’s Office is conducting an investigation into numerous calls it had received the past few years about Cruz.

Gov. Rick Scott has demanded FBI Director Christopher Wray resign.

Rush Limbaugh, a conservative radio host from Palm Beach, appeared on Fox News Sunday, where he called for the expansion of concealed-carry laws to allow people with permits to be armed in schools.

“If we are really serious about protecting the kids, we need a mechanism to be defensive when this kind of thing — if we’re not going to take action, we better have mechanisms in these schools to stop it when it breaks out,” Limbaugh said. “If we don’t do that, then all the rest of this is nothing more than political posturing for the 2018 midterms and the 2020 election.”

The state Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled Tuesday to hear a proposal (SB 1236) that would allow school principals or school superintendents designate people who could carry guns during school hours.

A separate measure (SB 1048), expected to go before the full state Senate on Wednesday, would alter the law that prohibits people with a concealed-carry permit from carrying at a religious facility on property that also includes a school. Currently, individuals with a permit are allowed to carry at churches and other religious institutions on property that doesn’t have accompanying education facilities.

By Jim Turner.