April 2020 Guest Book Review by Clemence Noakes
WHY MEADOW DIED: The People and Policies That Created the Parkland Shooter and Endanger America’s Students: by Andrew Pollack and Max Eden – a book review. This is a MUST-read for any concerned citizen about the safety of public schools.
WHY MEADOW DIED was written by Andrew Pollack, the father of Meadow Pollack, one of the Parkland victims, and Max Eden, a nationally renowned education policy expert. The Pollack family is Jewish. Andrew Pollack and his son, Hunter Pollack, wearing a yarmulke, visited President Trump to discuss how to make schools safe again. To honor Meadow, her father, Andrew Pollack, started raising money to build a playground in memory of her and the other sixteen victims.
WHY MEADOW DIED describes the monumental failure of Broward County’s school board and the police department in preventing the Parkland Shooter, now Prisoner 18-1958.18-1958 robbed seventeen people of their lives on 14 February 2018. 18-1958 was a child who, “was practically screaming, ‘If you ignore me, I could become a mass murderer.’ At every critical point in his life, the adults in the school system had a choice: do the obviously responsible thing, or do the easy thing that’s encouraged by these policies. They did the latter every time. Parkland was the most avoidable mass shooting in American history.”
The Department of Education during the years 2008 – 2016 promoted a program called PROMISE to dramatically decrease student arrests. Instead of maintaining high behavior standards, the Broward County School Board adopted a policy of leniency that lowered behavioral standards so that no arrests were made. The policy of leniency reduced the juvenile prison population but did not reduce the juvenile crime rate, and the “improved” statistics made the school board look good. As applied to 18-1958, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) failed this troubled student in the following ways, which are but a few of the numerous times school and public/police authorities could have intervened:
- 18-1958 skinned animals alive and brought the remains to school, bragging about it to other students. The other students reported 18-1958’s behavior to school authorities, but school authorities refused to look into the allegations.
- 18-1958 punched his mother in the mouth and knocked out her teeth but was never arrested for assault and battery.
- 18-1958 threatened the life of people at MSD, which is a felony, but was never arrested.
- 18-1958 was hospitalized for drinking gasoline, but this was not included as a mental health issue in his juvenile record.
- 18-1958’s psychiatrist told MSD authorities to deny 18-1958’s request to join ROTC, but MSD authorities ignored the psychiatrist’s advice and enrolled 18-1958 into ROTC where he learned to use an air rifle.
- 18-1958 posted on social media that he planned on shooting up MSD, and this was reported to the local FBI office. The local FBI ignored the threat and said it was 18-1958’s right to free speech.
- 18-1958’s psychopathic behavior was ignored, and he was mainstreamed into MSD under the protected class of “special needs.”
Had any of the following been put into 18-1958’s record, the gun background check would have denied 18-1958 the right to purchase a firearm.
On 14 February 2018, school authorities and police authorities made the following disastrous errors:
- All access doors at MSD except the main entrance were supposed to be locked, but they were not. 18-1958 entered in through one of these unlocked access doors.
- All but one bathroom was locked so that the teachers wouldn’t have to check but one bathroom for smoking. When the shooting started, students tried to take cover inside the bathrooms but were locked out, making them sitting ducks.
- The gun fire produced smoke, which set off the smoke detectors. Teachers could hear both the gun shots and the smoke detector, but chose to believe the smoke detector and locked Meadow Pollack out of a classroom, leaving her in the hall where she was shot.
- MSD had a “code red” for school shooting, but only the principal was allowed to issue the “code red.” The principal was out of the school they day and failed to delegate this task. Nobody in the school, even though they heard gun shots, was willing to issue the “code red” without the principal’s delegation.
- The one man at MSD with a gun, the sheriff’s deputy, ran and hid. He is now under indictment for a felony.
- The sheriff mis-managed money issued for a new hand-held radio system and used the funding to put his picture on squad cars as part of his re-election campaign. The old radio system, which was used at MSD on 14 February 2018, was inadequate and contributed to the confusion of the situation. The Florida governor relieved the sheriff of his job due to incompetence.
The book is quite complex, and this summary doesn’t do it justice. On a scale of 1 – 5, I rate this book, written by the father of a child who perished, a FIVE – a MUST read.