Some school counselors and officials were so concerned about the mental stability of Nikolas Cruz, accused in last month’s Florida school massacre that they decided to have him forcibly committed more than a year before the shooting.
However, the recommendation was never acted upon.
Documents in the criminal case against Cruz show that school officials at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and a sheriff’s deputy recommended in September 2016 that Cruz be involuntarily committed for mental evaluation under Florida’s Baker Act for at least three days, according to the Associated Press.
The documents, which are part of Cruz’s criminal case in the shooting, show that he had written the word ‘kill’ in a notebook, told a classmate that he wanted to buy a gun and use it, and had cut his arm supposedly in anger because he had broken up with a girlfriend. He also told another student he had drunk gasoline and was throwing up. Calls had even been made to the FBI about the possibility of Cruz using a gun at school.
So, why wasn’t he taken in?
At the same time the Broward County school system was dismantling the ‘school-to-prison pipeline’ under policies that failed to stop accused shooter Nikolas Cruz, it was building another pipeline, funneling back into regular classrooms thousands of other potentially dangerous students released from local jails, county and school district records reveal.
Through a little-known “re-engagement” program for serious juvenile offenders, the Florida district has ‘transitioned’ back to school almost 2,000 incarcerated students, a number comparable to student bodies at many high schools, according to district data obtained by RealClearInvestigations. Local probation officers warn that these offenders have a high risk of reoffending.
Another initiative, the Behavior Intervention Program, attempts to mainstream a smaller number of ‘students who exhibit severe, unmanageable behavior,’ according to a 2017-2018 program handbook, including those who are ‘convicted of a serious crime such as rape, murder, attempted murder, sexual battery or firearm related [offense].’
The number of returning felons and other serious offenders has climbed each year since Broward Schools Supt. Robert Runcie, a close ally of President Obama, started the program in 2013 as part of his crusade to ‘end the school-to-prison pipeline,’ which he says has disproportionately harmed young African-American men.
The next year, district officials worked with county prosecutors, probation officers and judges to release and return 325 incarcerated students to area schools. The number grew to 570 in the 2015 school year, before rising to 967 in 2016, the latest available figure provided to RCI by the district.
Is it any wonder a known danger like Nikolas Cruz wasn’t handled properly?
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