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Broward County Officials Finally Admit Parkland Shooter Was Assigned to PROMISE Program

Broward County School Board Superintendent Robert Runcie speaks to media following a news conference.

Broward school district officials admitted on Sunday that Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz was assigned to the controversial PROMISE program, even though both the superintendent and the Broward Sheriff's Office denied repeatedly that Cruz had a connection to the Obama-era disciplinary program. The program came under scrutiny after the Feb. 14 shooting rampage at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students were killed an 17 injured. The parents of one of the injured survivors has filed a lawsuit arguing that the program's lax attitude toward discipline led to the school massacre.

Although Broward County officials were loathe to admit it, Cruz was referred to the program for "a three-day stint after committing vandalism at Westglades Middle School in 2013," two sources with knowledge of Cruz’s discipline records told WLRN.

When asked for a response, a spokeswoman for Superintendent Robert Runcie stated on Friday that district administrators were aggressively analyzing Cruz's records. Then Tracy Clark said on Sunday afternoon the district had "confirmed" Cruz's referral to PROMISE after he vandalized a bathroom at the middle school on Nov. 25, 2013.

However, it's unclear if Cruz ever attended the program.

Clark said he appeared at Pine Ridge Education Center in Fort Lauderdale — an alternative school facility where PROMISE is housed — for an intake interview the day after the vandalism incident.

But, she said, "It does not appear that Cruz completed the recommended three-day assignment/placement." She said she did not want to "speculate" as to why.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) reacted to the news on Twitter:

Back in March, a Broward County Public Schools spokeswoman said that “the District has no record of Nikolas Cruz committing a PROMISE-eligible infraction or being assigned the PROMISE while in high school.”

And Runcie said during an interview in his office last month: “Nikolas Cruz, the shooter that was involved in this horrific accident at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, had no connection to the PROMISE program.”

The Broward County school system adopted the lenient discipline policy in 2013, making it much more difficult for administrators to suspend or expel troubled, often violent students, or for school resource officers to arrest them for misdemeanors. A parallel "civil citation" program works to protect students from arrest for off-campus criminality.

Veteran FBI agent Michael Biasello told RealClearInvestigation's Paul Sperry: “He had a clean record, so alarm bells didn’t go off when they looked him up in the system. He probably wouldn’t have been able to buy the murder weapon if the school had referred him to law enforcement."