Investigative journalism from The Sun-Sentinel found that the Broward County empathized covering up where they went wrong over the truth of what happened.
Immediately after 17 people were murdered inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the school district launched a persistent effort to keep people from finding out what went wrong.
For months, Broward schools delayed or withheld records, refused to publicly assess the role of employees, spread misinformation and even sought to jail reporters who published the truth.
New information gathered by the South Florida Sun Sentinel proves that the school district knew far more than it’s saying about a disturbed former student obsessed with death and guns who mowed down staff and students with an assault rifle on Valentine’s Day.
After promising an honest assessment of what led to the shooting, the district instead hired a consultant whose primary goal, according to school records, was preparing a legal defense. Then the district kept most of those findings from the public.
The district also spent untold amounts on lawyers to fight the release of records and nearly $200,000 to pay public relations consultants who advised administrators to clam up, the Sun Sentinel found.
They also admitted that federal privacy laws kept them from releasing information on Nikolas Cruz which would’ve stopped him from being able to purchase a gun.
It also highlights the shortcomings of federal education laws that protect even admitted killers like Cruz who are no longer students. Behind a shield of privacy laws and security secrets, schools can cover up errors and withhold information the public needs in order to heal and to evaluate the people entrusted with their children’s lives.
A report that tried to hide the failures of the Broward County school district only came out after it was leaked to the Sun Sentinel.
With a judge’s approval, the district obscured references to Cruz — nearly two-thirds of the text — to protect his privacy under law. Only when the Sun Sentinel obtained and published an uncensored copy did the truth come out: Cruz was deeply troubled; the district improperly withdrew support he needed; he asked for additional services; and the district bungled his request, leaving him spinning without help.
Teachers had warned the district about him
The district was well aware that Cruz, for years, was unstable and possibly murderous:
— “I’m a bad kid. I want to kill,” Cruz, now 20 years old, ominously told a teacher in middle school.
— “I strongly feel that Nikolas is a danger to the students and faculty at this school,” Cruz’s eighth-grade language arts teacher wrote in a behavioral evaluation. “I do not feel that he understands the difference between his violent video games and reality.”
In middle school, he “stated he felt nervous about one day going to jail and wondered what would happen to him if he did something bad.”
— Cruz told one teacher in October 2013 — 4½ years before his Parkland rampage — that “I would rather be on the street killing animals and setting fires.”
— The same year, his eighth-grade class was discussing the Civil War in America. He “became fixated on the assassination of Abraham Lincoln,” a teacher noted. “What did it sound like when Lincoln was shot?” he asked. “Did it go pop, pop, pop really fast? Was there blood everywhere?”
— At Westglades Middle School, at the beginning of eighth grade, one girl’s mother called to have her transferred out of Cruz’s class because she was concerned for her child’s safety. The mother called Cruz a “menace to society,” according to a psychosocial assessment.
In short, the school district’s own records reveal Nikolas Cruz to be a tortured teen liable to explode at any time. Yet the analysis the district commissioned to help the community “understand,” as Runcie promised, makes no mention of those episodes.
Another report should be coming out on New Years which will dive deeper into what is happening here. It is clear that Broward messed up and is now doubling down on their efforts by trying to keep as much from the public as possible.
This report really makes you question the Mainstream Media as well. Major News outlets happily allowed the Broward County Sheriff to go on long tirades attacking the NRA and gun owners. It is shocking to me that only the Sun Sentinel’s journalist seemed actively interested in getting to the truth.
“This bombshell Sun Sentinel piece exposes @RobertwRuncie sick cover up. They do deserve an award for prying the truth from the district’s morally dead fingers. I will expose even more.” https://t.co/NS8bQkOJ2T
— Andrew Pollack (@AndrewPollackFL) November 30, 2018