Governor Rick Scott, homicidal personality, Parkland Flora, Promise Program, Rober Rancie, run and hide drills, school attacks, student privacy
My last update of the Parkland case, Update 7, was in April of 2018. I’ve been waiting for some of the fervor and media cover up to die down before continuing to analyze the case. The first draft of a commission appointed by Florida Governor Rick Scott has now been released, and with the help of that, we’ll have a much better idea of what really happened, and what, if anything, could have been done to prevent the attack, or to stop it when it occurred. As is always the case with such things, reality will be considerably different than the media narrative. I was able to do this regarding the Newtown attack when a similar report was finally released.
The Parkland shooter made it publically known, and more than once, that he wanted to be a school shooter. He was ignored, possibly due to incompetence, but likely because he was already caught up in the school’s program to keep junior felons from suffering any consequence for their crimes. Once in, the school could not admit he was a dangerous criminal without exposing their fraud of a program.
Let us visit a comprehensive report by the Sun-Sentinel on the school district’s cover up, a necessary predicate to complete understanding:
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 reporterswho 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 districtkeptmost of those findings from the public.
The District, led by Superintendent Robert Runcie, a staunch Obamite, quickly spent hundreds of thousands on lawyers and PR consultants, not to release information to the public, but to further a cover up.
Beyond that, though, the cloak of secrecy illustrates the steps a beleaguered public body will take to manage and hide information in a crisis when reputations, careers and legal liability are at stake.
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.
Nine months after the Parkland shooting, few people have been held accountable — or even identified — for mishandling security and failing to react to signs that the troubled Cruz could erupt. Only two low-level security monitors have been fired.
These were two coach/security guards who, unarmed, did not confront the killer. A third coach/security guard who did was immediately shot and killed. One suspects the families of the fired coaches are happier than that of the dead coach lauded a hero.
Three assistant principals and a security specialist were finally transferred out of Stoneman Douglas this week [11-12-18] as a result of information revealed by the state commission, but the district refused to say exactly what the employees did wrong. [skip]
Superintendent Robert Runcie stresses that the school district has made no attempt to conceal information except when lawyers said it could not be released.
‘That can’t be characterized — and should not be characterized — as the district doesn’t want to provide more information,’ he said. ‘We work to be as transparent as possible. … We have nothing to hide.
Runcie has much to hide. Despite his protestations, state and federal privacy laws relate to the release of student’s personal information. The policies of schools and the actions—or inactions—of school employees are public information, bought and paid for by taxpayers.
Without taking bids or interviewing consultants, the district let itsoutside law firm hire Collaborative Educational Network of Tallahassee, a contractor that had worked for Broward schools before and knew school board attorney Barbara Myrick professionally.
CEN’s contract, for $60,000, did not demand the thorough and transparent review that Runcie promised. Rather, it directed the consultant to analyze Cruz’s school records, interview educators and keep the details secret. The contract required the consultant to ‘further assist the client in ongoing litigation matters.’
CEN spent several months analyzing one issue: whether Broward schools satisfied the law in the education of Nikolas Cruz, a one-time special education student, or whether ‘areas of concern’ should be addressed. The review made no attempt to assess whether the district adequately protected students or failed to act on Cruz’s often-spoken plans for violence. Though Runcie said other agencies would be interviewed, none were.
Fortunately, the Sun Sentinel aggressively pursued the matter:
The report, released in August after a court battle, concluded that the district generally treated Cruz properly. Exactly how, the public could not tell.
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 copydid the truth come out: Cruz was deeply troubled; the district improperly withdrew supporthe needed; he asked for additional services; and the district bungled his request, leaving him spinning without help.
The truth is even worse:
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 Parklandrampage — that ‘I would rather be on the street killing animals and setting fires.’
Cruelty to animals and pyromania are potential indicators of the homicidal personality. While there is argument about this hypothesis in professional circles, this should have provoked enhanced interest in the killer by mental health professionals, as should these warning signs:
— 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.
The article explains that Runcie enforced an absolute cover up, even disciplining employees that showed the slightest interest in the background of the shooter. Runcie claimed that revealing the truth would give away “security secrets,” claiming it would endanger future students. This is absolute nonsense. Hiding security measures only encourages school attacks; it does not deter them. Not that it would help this particular district, or this particular school, which due to its multiple buildings and 3200 student population—the size of many small town–is a security nightmare.
Cruz was just one of about 1,000 students in Broward public schools with emotional and behavioral disabilities, Noe said.
‘If you were to review the full educational records of those students, you would find many, many instances in which they said or wrote disturbing or threatening statements,’ Noe said in an email, adding that ‘unfortunately, how we see things in hindsight is often very different than what we perceive in the moment.’
Still, plenty of people knew that Cruz was bent on violence, but their concerns appear nowhere in the consultant’s report.
‘Nikolas continues to struggle with displaying appropriate behaviors,’ a guidance counselor at Stoneman Douglas wrote. ‘The student was observed writing ‘KILL’ on a paper.’
In February 2016, just weeks after Cruz started full time at Stoneman Douglas, a neighbor reported to the sheriff’s office how unhinged he was. Cruz posted online that he planned to ‘shoot up a school,’ the neighbor said.
The statement does not appear in the consultant’s report; it is not included in Cruz’s school files. Instead, the report portrayed the volatile Cruz as a success story at the time. He was ‘experiencing positive academic progress with only minor behavioral challenges,’ the report said.
Also left unsaid were the district’s programs to hide the criminal tendencies and behaviors of Black and Hispanic students. In effect, the district followed Obama administration policies, preventing any effective discipline, including suspensions, of kids with long criminal records, including drug use and dealing, and violence. This allowed the district to claim there were no such crimes, and to artificially lower discipline rates while raising attendance and graduation rates. Of course, keeping these dangerous kids in school at all costs damages the educational opportunities of kids that want to learn. Obamites see this as entirely rational because they believe the much higher national rate of discipline and crimes for black students, and to a lesser degree Hispanic students, can only be the result of institutional racism rather than the behavior of the involved students.
The school district’s actions were ‘just total negligence — serious, not minor,’ said Provenzano, the former special education coordinator. ‘The way I look at it, we don’t have dead children if the school district had done what they needed to do.
To be entirely fair, it is extraordinarily difficult to prevent school attacks by means of mental health programs. Despite many years of examination by many mental health professionals, no one had any idea of the Newtown killer’s intentions. The Parkland killer, over many years, did demonstrate disturbing, even potentially murderous behaviors, but at least in part due to the school district’s willful blindness, nothing was done.
However, even if the district were not so willfully blind where minorities are concerned, it is likely nothing would have stopped the killer. In our criminal justice system, one can’t be arrested for possible future crimes. This is a good thing. In every state, it is possible to take a mentally ill person into temporary custody for a psychiatric evaluation, however, such evaluations rarely result in more than a day or two of incarceration, and progressives, since the 60s, have been entirely successful in making it virtually impossible for the dangerous and criminally insane to be held for long-term treatment. This is largely why Democrat-controlled cities are overrun by dangerously insane homeless.
Even so, schools in much of the country double down on “improving” passive mental health screenings and programs,in concert with the usual, ineffective security measures, such as run and hide drills, none of which would have stopped the Parkland killer. They were content to force school personnel and students, unarmed, to confront murderous killers, with entirely predictable results.
Over the next several weeks, I’ll analyze the state commission’s report. In many ways, it too doubles down on failure, but it does provide information which—if it can be trusted—better explains why failure occurred in this case, and why, without the only truly effective means of deterring and stopping school attacks, we will surely have more.