In two instances, “school officials did not follow the requirements of Florida statute or federal laws governing students with disabilities”
Following the Parkland shooting that left 17 people dead, the Broward County School District commissioned an independent review. The review, conducted by the Collaborative Educational Network of Tallahassee, found that the shooter was inappropriately denied special needs accommodations at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
A Broward County judge ordered public release of the report, entitled “Independent Review of ‘NC’s’ Education Record,” and though much of it was redacted, the Sun Sentinel found that the redacted portions could be read by copying and pasting the text into another document.
In the year leading up to the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, killer Nikolas Cruz was stripped of the therapeutic services disabled students need, leaving him to navigate his schooling as a regular student despite mounds of evidence that he wasn’t.
When he asked to return to a special education campus, school officials fumbled his request.
Those conclusions were revealed Friday in a consultant’s report commissioned by the Broward public school system. Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer ordered that the report be released publicly, but with nearly two-thirds of the content blacked out.
The school district said the alterations were needed to comply with the shooter’s privacy rights, but the method the district used to conceal the text failed. The blacked-out text became visible when pasted into another computer file.
The consultant found two specific instances of failure by the school officials.
The Sun Sentinel continues:
Without directly criticizing the schools, the consultant, the Collaborative Educational Network of Tallahassee, recommended that the district reconsider how cases like Cruz’s are handled. The recommendations suggest that Cruz could have been offered more help in his final two years in high school, leading up to the Feb. 14 shooting.
Whether that would have changed the outcome is impossible to know.
The consultant found that the district largely followed the laws, providing special education to the shooter starting when he was 3 years old and had already been kicked out of day care. But “two specific instances were identified,” the report says, where school officials did not follow the requirements of Florida statute or federal laws governing students with disabilities.
— School officials misstated Cruz’s options when he was faced with being removed from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School his junior year, leading him to refuse special education services.
— When Cruz asked to return to the therapeutic environment of Cross Creek School for special education students, the district “did not follow through,” the report reveals.
The school’s misstatement regarding Cruz’s options resulted in his having no special needs care for over year before his deadly rampage. Even classified as a general admission student, however, he should have had access to school counseling and related mental health services.
School officials misstated Cruz’s options when he was faced with removal from the Florida high school his junior, which led him to refuse special education services, according to the report.
When Cruz was asked to return to the therapeutic environment of Cross Creek School for special education students, the district “did not follow through,” the report said.
“Upon entering the room and seeing the Cross Creek representatives, the student immediately became upset and verbally aggressive. He refused to sit at the table, angrily repeating that he would not go back to Cross Creek and that he wanted only to stay at Stoneman. He intended to graduate from the school,” the report said, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
. . . Three days after he was forced by the district to withdraw from Stoneman Douglas High, he purchased an AR-15 rifle. Then, a year after his ejection from the school, he returned for the mass shooting.
The district treated him “like a general education student” for his final two years, but even those students should have access to counseling and mental health services, the report said.
The shooter’s attorneys call the report an attempt to “whitewash” the failings of the school and of the school district.
Fox News continues:
But Cruz’s attorneys called the report a “whitewash” commissioned by the district to absolve it of responsibility for its handling of Cruz’s psychological problems, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
“I think that the report is an attempt by the school board to absolve itself of any liability or responsibility for all the missed opportunities that they had in this matter,” said Gordon Weekes, the chief assistant public defender.
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