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Parkland parents who lost kids are running for school board

May 15, 2018

Ryan Petty, left, and Lori Alhadeff, who both lost their children in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, speak at a news conference after filing to run for the Broward County School Board, Tuesday, May 15, 2018, at the Supervisor of Elections office in Fort Lauderdale. (Joe Cavaretta /South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Two parents who lost children in February’s massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School announced their candidacies for county school board seats Tuesday, saying they want to improve safety and increase accountability.

Ryan Petty, a telecom and technology entrepreneur, said he wants to help restore the Broward County School Board to its proper function as an oversight body for the administration, saying he thinks that has been lost. He is running for an at-large seat on the board, while Lori Alhadeff is running in the district that includes the city of Parkland, where Stoneman Douglas is located.

“We’ve dedicated ourselves to change a system that would allow somebody like Nikolas Cruz to fall through the cracks,” said Petty, referring to the 19-year-old former Stoneman Douglas student whom police have identified as the shooter. Petty’s daughter Alaina and Alhadeff’s daughter Alyssa were two of 14 students and three school officials killed.

Ryan Petty

Petty said he and Alhadeff helped pass state laws strengthening gun control in the months after the shooting, but said “there’s a lot more to do.”

Alhadeff, a former teacher with a master’s degree in education, said she supports giving kids second chances. But she thinks changes should be made to a mentoring program aimed at steering children away from the criminal justice system. The program has been scrutinized since the school shooting. Broward County school officials revealed last week that Cruz had been referred to, but did not fully participate in the program when he was in middle school.

“We’ve gone from the complete extreme of over-disciplining kids to not disciplining kids, which is what we have now,” Alhadeff said.

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This story has been edited to correct the spelling of Nikolas Cruz and clarify the description of the mentoring program.

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