A newly released report about the educational history of Nikolas Cruz, charged with killing 17 people on Feb. 14 in a Parkland, Fla., school shooting, found little fault in the Broward school district’s handling of Cruz’s special needs. Yet two key errors in his junior year left Cruz without therapeutic services from the district for more than a year before the shooting and prevented him from returning to the only high school where he had improved his behavior and found some academic success, reports the New York Times. They are the latest in a series of lapses by federal, state and local officials who came in contact with Cruz during his troubled teenage years but failed to take actions that might have prevented the shooting.
Cruz was an 18-year-old junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland when a spate of disturbing behavior led to a meeting about the future of his schooling. Education specialists told Cruz he should transfer to Cross Creek, an alternative school for students with emotional problems where he had thrived in ninth grade. But Cruz was legally an adult, and he wanted to graduate from Stoneman Douglas, according to the new report. He stayed there but was not given special-needs protections. On Feb. 8, 2017, Cruz’s failing grades forced him to withdraw from school. Three days later, he legally bought an AR-15 assault rifle that he would be used a year later when he returned to Stoneman Douglas and killed 17 students and staff members in one of the deadliest school shootings in American history. Cruz, now 19, is jail awaiting trial on charges of capital murder.