The Sun-Sentinel newspaper recovered redacted documents from the Broward County School District this week, used a little copy-paste trick to uncover the redacted parts, and published them for the world to see this week. The documents prove that in addition to the school’s failure to put school shooter Nikolas Cruz in a disciplinary program (due to a politically-correct initiative endorsed by the Obama administration) and in addition to the many failures of the Broward Co. Sheriff’s Department in the leadup to the shooting and the day of the shooting, there were even MORE failures on the part of school officials in terms of preventing this tragedy.
In the weeks and months after the deadly shooting, several Parkland students have become famous for their activism against guns. But the report from the Sun-Sentinel shows that while there may have been nothing we could have legally done to prevent Cruz from getting his hands on a gun if he wanted one, there was plenty school officials could have done to flag this kid well before the bullets started flying.
The report, written by the Collaborative Educational Network of Tallahassee, shows that Broward school officials not only failed to get Cruz directed to the help that he so clearly needed, they actually neglected their duties so badly they found themselves in violation of the law.
When Cruz was a junior in high school, guidance counselors at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School found his behavior so disturbing that they wanted to have him committed to a mental health institution for intense treatment. They offered Cruz the opportunity to transfer to a special school for students with specific needs or stay at Stoneman Douglas, where he would receive no special counseling. Cruz opted to stay, but was never informed of the fact that he was legally entitled to the counseling the school stripped away. At that point, despite the fact that his developmental problems had been a part of his official record since he was a toddler, Cruz was left to fend for himself.
Several months after this whole thing happened, Cruz, unable to keep up with the demands of the schoolwork and failing out of classes, told school administrators that he wanted to take that transfer after all. The report, however, notes that the school district “did not follow through” on the request. Ultimately, Cruz dropped out of high school in February of 2017. Only a few days later, he bought the rifle he used to kill 14 people a year later.
We’re not going to say that anyone in the Broward County School District or the administration of Stoneman Douglas High School is responsible for what happened. Cruz bears that burden himself. However, in an era where everyone is trying to find the magic solution to these school shootings, it is worth paying attention to the failures of this county. All the troubling signs were there, and you had a kid practically begging for help.
All we’re saying is: Before we go monkeying around with the Second Amendment or even before we start passing a bunch of new mental health initiatives…how about we just start WATCHING and LISTENING when we see people in trouble. We might save some lives. Maybe more of them than we can predict.