Superintendent recommends independent review regarding Parkland school shooter

Review to conclude by June

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor, Bob Norman - Investigative Reporter

PARKLAND, Fla. - Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie recommended Tuesday during a school board meeting that a comprehensive and independent review be conducted regarding Nikolas Cruz's educational record and the academic, social and emotional services he received

"Across our District, we continue to focus on supporting our students, families, staff and the entire Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School community, as we work to recover from the unbelievable tragedy on Feb. 14, 2018," Runcie said in a news release. "Our hearts remain broken, as we find ourselves at the center of enormous loss and heartbreak. The ability to move forward in the aftermath of a horrific attack on our school community depends on the steps we take now to understand the conditions that may have led to this tragedy. A quest for such understanding must be done with both transparency and a sense of urgency."

School records show that Cruz, 19, attended the Cross Creek School for emotionally and behaviorally disabled students before he was transferred to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where he eventually gunned down 17 people and injured more than a dozen others.

"Nikolas, at times, will be distracted by inappropriate conversations of his peers if the topic is about guns, people being killed or the armed forces," wrote Cross Creek educators in his education plan. "He is fascinated by the use of guns and often speaks of weapons and the importance of 'having weapons to remain safe in this world.'"

Records show that Cruz was making improvements at Cross Creek, even volunteering for the YMCA and expressing interest in returning to a "regular school" like Douglas.

The documents also show Cruz was dependent on psychiatric medication and continued to struggle greatly in social situations. Despite those issues, he was still enrolled at Douglas in January 2016 when his behavior rapidly deteriorated.

Records show that Cruz got into trouble at Douglas for things like fighting and assault, which led to his ouster from the school in February 2017.

Runcie said he consulted with the school district's legal counsel, the state attorney and representatives from the Florida Department of Education and its Inspector General's Office before proposing that Collaborative Education Network, Inc. conduct the review.

The review includes:
•         A thorough review of the student's academic records.
•         Identification and review of the academic, social and emotional services provided to Nikolas Cruz during the time he was enrolled in Broward County Public Schools.
•         On-site interviews with BCPS staff and agency partners, who provided academic and support services to the student.
•         A review of policies and procedures in place during the student's academic journey.

The review is expected to start Tuesday and conclude by June, with a final report issued of its findings and recommendations.

The cost of the review is expected to be about $60,000.

"While we cannot undo this heartbreaking attack on our school community on Feb. 14, we can and must do what we can to understand the conditions that lead to such acts, in hopes of avoiding them here and elsewhere," Runcie said. 

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