Parents Of Parkland Victims Take Action And Run For School Board

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The parents of two Parkland shooting victims are taking their fight to the school district board in an attempt to see that changes are effectively implemented.

After their 14-year-olds were senselessly killed in the Parkland mass shooting, Lori Alhadeff and Ryan Petty decided to run for the Broward County School Board.

Their goal? To help save the county’s school system after countless parents, teachers, and children lost faith in current administrators.

After the horrific tragedy that killed 17 and injured 17 others, including Alyssa Alhadeff and Alaina Petty, Broward County School Superintendent Robert Runcie became a target of criticism coming from all sides thanks to his reluctance in releasing information on shooter Nikolas Cruz.

The criticism became particularly loud once it was revealed that Cruz had participated in the district’s PROMISE program, which helps to divert young men and women who commit a misdemeanor crime on campus away from prison. Unfortunately, the district appears to have inflated the program’s results and “exaggerated” its effects, Politico reports. As such, many believe that the tragedy could have been prevented if the program actually worked.

While Petty and Alhadeff didn’t specify what kinds of issues they see that are particularly troubling with the school district, the fact Runcie has been under such heavy scrutiny may signal it’s time for a change.

“I don’t want Alyssa’s life to be in vain. I’m doing this because I don’t want another parent to go through the pain and anguish that I have to go through every day,” Alhadeff told Politico. “I don’t want any child to have to say to their mom, ‘Mommy, am I going to die today if I go to school?’”

Petty agreed.

“My eyes were open that day and I decided I needed to be more involved in how issues like safety and security are handled at the district to make sure our students and teachers are safe,” Petty said. “Every child deserves to have a great education. But they have to feel safe. If they don’t feel safe, it’s really hard to learn.”

When discussing Cruz’s participation in the PROMISE program, Alhadeff made it clear that the school district was not being transparent.

“The only thing I understood is the reason for the PROMISE program was to give kids second chances and also to help fight the ‘school to prison pipeline.’ But besides that, they were not very clear in explaining how the PROMISE program worked,” she said.

Petty told reporters that he liked the idea behind PROMISE because “kids could benefit from [this] program and we may be missing opportunities to actually help some of these kids.” But working for change takes more than just a concept, he said.

As one of the Parkland parents who helped to lobby state legislature to pass the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, Petty said he believes in getting his hands dirty to get the job done.

“If I get elected to the school board, I can be part of making sure the law gets implemented. And that was as close to an ah-ha moment as I can tell you,” said Petty. “I felt an obligation to work on this legislation to honor my daughter and make sure this never happens again.”

In order to bring an end to this culture of inefficiency and carelessness, Petty and Alhadeff decided to go one step further with their activism and take part in the decisions that could change the district for good. While they say they do not have all the answers, they know that nothing will change unless they try.

“If I don’t stand up and let other parents understand the risks and threats that are in our schools, I miss an opportunity to honor the memory of my daughter and the memory of the other victims,” Petty said.

Both parents are now part of the Broward Parents for Better and Safer Schools, a new political committee. Alhadeff is running for a Parkland-based seat, while Petty is filing for a county-based seat that is now held by a Gov. Rick Scott appointee. The committee is being handled by Democratic consultants Eric Johnson and Sean Phillippi.

Hopefully, more people in Parkland, Florida, will feel inspired by these two parents and will work to be part of the change they seek.

Taking action politically and locally is one of the best ways to get new policies implemented. So if the community is serious about seeing legislation targeting gun-related violence put in place and then enforced, being more actively involved is imperative. And what's even better is that others across the country could follow their lead.

Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Reuters/Angel Valentin

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