Broward County

Parkland parent resigns from state commission to investigate Stoneman Douglas shooting

Andrew Pollack, father of Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting victim Meadow Pollack.
Andrew Pollack, father of Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting victim Meadow Pollack. Associated Press

Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was killed in the deadly school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, quietly resigned last month from a state commission created to investigate the shooting in order to pursue his own probe.

Pollack, among the more outspoken Parkland parents, submitted a resignation letter following the commission's first meeting in April, announcing that he was leaving. Pollack wrote in the letter — dated May 4 and read Thursday morning into the record by commission chairman Sheriff Bob Gualtieri — that he wants to focus on the upcoming Broward School Board elections and on an independent investigation in which he's involved.

"It is my intention to get individuals elected to our school board who will take preventative measures to keep our schools safe.," Pollack wrote. "I will also be spending my time and resources on an independent investigation that will get to the bottom of who is responsible for the atrocities that occurred in our school on Valentine's Day 2018, the last Valentine's Day I will ever spend with my daughter."

Two Parkland parents, including Ryan Petty, a member of the state's Parkland commission, are running to win seats on the Broward school board. Pollack said he would support Petty, fellow parent Loria Alhadeff and the lesser-known Richard Mendelson, a professor at Kaiser University Graduate School.

Pollack was appointed to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School ​Public Safety Commission by Gov. Rick Scott. He has been extremely critical of the Broward School district and the Broward Sheriff's Office, and has created a messaging campaign to promote safety measures in schools, such as metal detectors. He was among the group of parents whose lobbying helped push a gun-control and school-safety bill through the Florida Legislature this year.

Pollack has also sued Scot Peterson, the school resource officer who failed to enter the building where Nikolas Cruz carried out his attack, killing Meadow Pollack.

Pollack's resignation was announced one day after he walked onto campus and demanded that two school monitors be fired for failing to order a "code red" when they saw Cruz walking onto campus carrying a bag.

"It's my intention to make sure that all the individuals and agencies that are responsible for this massacre will be held legally accountable," Pollack wrote. "I have full faith that the members of this commission will get the answers that they are seeking and that they will continue to make sure that preventative measures are taken and that our schools can be made safe."

Gualtieri, the sheriff of Pinellas County, said he'll work with Scott's office to replace Pollack on the commission.

In an interview with the Miami Herald on Thursday morning, Pollack said he was confident the commission would move forward “with or without me” but that he wanted to assume a more active role in uncovering the “incompetence” that led to the shooting.

“If you want something done right you have to do it yourself,” he said, adding that he wasn't the type of person to be told what to do. “I just want to stay focused on my own investigation. They don’t really need me on the commission but I’m going to uncover other things.”

If he remained on the commission, Pollack said, he risked being scrutinized for potential conflicts of interests that emerged from his lawsuit against Peterson and his confrontational stance toward the school district. He also intimated he may pursue legal action against the school district as well.

“Through (the wrongful death suit) I can investigate the whole school district and we're gonna expose everyone,” said Pollack, who founded the nonprofit Americans for Children’s Lives and School Safety (CLASS) after losing his daughter. In near-daily postings to social media, the mourning father with the “heart of a lion” has adopted the hashtag #FixIt.

He told the Herald that he spoke with Scott's office and the office of Attorney General Pam Bondi about resigning and that they supported his decision.

“My time is better spent helping the school board in Broward,” he said, adding that he would not consider running for the board himself. “It’s all gonna come out.”