Florida’s Broward County had already become a byword for deadly incompetence even before a newspaper report last week detailed the school board’s failures to deal with the teenager who eventually killed 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February in Parkland.
Now, it’s making another reputation, as the home of a school district willing to go to court to punish a newspaper that revealed the truth.
According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Broward County School Board is asking a judge to hold the newspaper in contempt after it published a damning story last week that showed just how badly the school district had failed to handle the case of Nikolas Cruz, the troubled teenager who turned into a mass killer.
The Sun-Sentinel’s article published Saturday was based on a Tallahassee-based consultant’s report the Broward School Board tried mightily to suppress.
However, it finally released a heavily redacted version of the report on Friday under a court order. About two-thirds of the document was supposed to be kept from the public by being blacked out. The problem for the school board was the redactions disappeared when the report was copied and pasted into another software.
That let the Sun-Sentinel reporters read the entire report – and let their readers know what the black-out version of the report kept hidden: That Cruz, who had been a student at Stoneman Douglas before transferring to an alternative school, had not been offered all available options for special education opportunities in the district; and that he was not able to attend the alternative school he wanted thanks in part to Stoneman Douglas administrators.
It also showed that School Superintendent Robert Runcie was misleading the public when he claimed that Cruz had refused special education options the district offered.
As the Sun-Sentinel reported:
“In the past, Runcie said that when Cruz turned 18 and rejected special education placement, the district could no longer provide him with the services given to students with emotional and behavioral disabilities. But the consultant’s report reveals for the first time that Cruz himself requested to return to special education, and his request went nowhere.”
Now, there’s no way of knowing whether anything the school district did could have prevented the February shooting. And no one is responsible for the crimes Cruz committed but Cruz himself. Now 19, he is charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
But the facts are that the school district essentially blew it when it came to the case of a deeply troubled teenager, then tried to keep the facts from the public – officially to protect the student’s privacy, of course. The concealment just happened to have another effect.
As the Sun-Sentinel put it: “The redactions removed specifics of the killer’s history in the school system — and in the process removed details of mistakes the district made in handling him.”
The Parkland shooting unleashed a wave of gun-control hysteria, led by the media and touted by the voluble David Hogg and other student “survivors,” who’ve been using the crime as a means of political activism and personal celebrity for eight months now.
But the Sun-Sentinel report – like earlier reports about the Broward County Sheriff’s Office – shows the failure of Democrat-dominated local government to deal with a potential problem before it became a tragedy.
And now the school board is going to court against a newspaper that revealed the truth?
In a time when liberals throughout the land are accusing President Donald Trump and his administration of being at war with the idea of a “free press,” nothing can show how hollow the liberals’ claims are than a school board in a Democrat-dominated county suing a newspaper for revealing the truth about government incompetence.
Broward County has really made a name for itself.
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