Nikolas Cruz, who has admitted to the mass shooting in a Florida high school earlier this year was denied therapeutic services intended to help disabled students. Mounting evidence suggests that he was incapable of managing at school without these services.
Cruz faces a number of charges after he is suspected of entering Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in February and killing 17 students and teachers, leaving 16 others wounded.
Although gun control was the issue initially thrust into public focus after the crime, with the “March For Our Lives” set up in the aftermath, the new report is the latest that has highlighted a host of major failures by law enforcement and education officials.
The report was prepared by the Collaborative Educational Network (CEN) of Tallahassee and commissioned by the Broward County Public Schools.
Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer ordered that the report be released publicly, but with nearly two-thirds of its contents blacked out. However, pasting the text into another computer file revealed the full report, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
The report showed that school officials in two cases did not follow the state or federal laws regarding students with disabilities.
In one instance, school officials misstated Cruz’s options when he was kicked out of school during his junior year, leading him to refuse special education services.
Later, Cruz specifically requested to return to the therapeutic environment of Cross Creek School for special education students, but the district “did not follow through,” the consultant stated.
Because of the failure to follow the laws, Cruz had no school counselling or other special education services in the 14 months leading up to the shooting on Feb. 14, reported the Sun-Sentinel, citing the CEN report.
However, Broward County Public Schools’ Superintendent Robert Runcie, claimed the report shows that the district’s “systems are appropriate” and that the district worked consistently “to provide an education and ongoing, changing behavioral care for Cruz throughout his time in the Broward school system.”
Series of Revelations
The report is the latest in a series of revelations that have highlighted major failures by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and school district, along with the FBI.
The FBI was alerted by multiple people, including a Mississippi man, about Cruz before the shooting. Cruz was making comments online that concerned people, including one that stated: “Im [sic] going to be a professional school shooter.”
Meanwhile, the sheriff’s office was called about Cruz dozens of times over the years. On many occasions it was his late, adoptive mother calling the police, telling them about his tendencies to kill animals and take their body parts as souvenirs and the like.
A controversial “promise program” in the county’s schools led to a “culture of leniency.” If a student commits a non-violent misdemeanor, the program allows for the offence to be handled within the school system and wiped of their record the following year, provided the offence is not repeated.
Hunter Pollack, whose sister Meadow Pollack was killed in the shooting, blamed the policy for the shooting.
Police radio dispatches from the massacre have the school’s security officer, Scot Peterson, reporting that the gunshots he could hear were coming from within the school. However, he remained outside.
Later he claimed through a statement from his lawyer that he believed the shots that he could here were coming from outside.