The Phoenix Flyer

Could a tragedy have been thwarted? Nikolas Cruz’s safety net had holes

By: - August 6, 2018 12:02 pm

Accused shooter Nikolas Cruz went without school counseling and special education services in the 14 months leading up to the Feb. 14 killings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School – in part because of school district errors, according to a South Florida Sun-Sentinel story.

The newspaper account this past weekend was based on a heavily-redacted consultant’s report released by a Broward circuit court judge. But “The blacked-out text became visible when pasted into another computer file,” the newspaper stated. That led to a plethora of details not previously revealed to the public following the deaths of 17 students and staff.

“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,” The Sun-Sentinel wrote.

But in two specific instances, “school officials did not follow the requirements of Florida statute or federal laws governing students with disabilities,” the newspaper wrote.

First, “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.”

Second, Cruz asked to return to a therapeutic environment for special education students, but the district “did not follow through,” the story said.

Whether Cruz could have gotten more help in his final high school years – potentially warding off the shooting — “is impossible to know,” the newspaper wrote.

The consultant’s report was commissioned by the Broward County school district and written by the Tallahassee-based Collaborative Educational Network.


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Diane Rado
Diane Rado

Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.