The redacted details of an independent report on how Broward County Public School officials handled the special-needs education of Parkland shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz were revealed due to a technical error.
The 70-page report, conducted by Collaborative Educational Network Inc. and commissioned by the Broward County school board, concluded that officials made the correct decisions in most instances under programs for students with learning disabilities and behavioral problems in Cruz's 16 years in the system.
"Available evidence indicates that, with isolated exceptions, the district adhered to procedural and substantive requirements when implementing this student's exceptional education program," according to the report.
The blacked-out text in the heavily redacted report could be revealed if those segments were copied and pasted into a computer word processor.
The decision to redact the document was made by a Broward County civil court judge due to privacy concerns.
The report said Broward officials in general properly handled Cruz's education but said officials in the district, in some instances, failed to provide special-needs accommodations based on state and federal law.
Key findings in the revealed report include that Cruz – who was diagnosed with a learning disability – had been receiving support services throughout his education. Cruz studied at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the special-needs-focused Cross Creek School.
According to the report, Cruz was transferred out of MSD but improved at Cross Creek School to the point where he returned to MSD. However, a series of conduct violations in 2016 led officials to recommend Cruz transfer back to Cross Creek School.
Cruz – as he was then 18 years old – wanted to remain at MSD but instead opted out of receiving further education as his only choices were to return to Cross Creek School, sue the school district or return to MSD without special-needs assistance, according to the report.
The report also discussed how Cruz's mother knew he wanted to acquire a Florida identification card to purchase a firearm. His mother, who adopted him after his biological mother died, told a youth emergency services team about her son's escalating behavior. Broward County officials have been heavily criticized for their response to what have been described as red flags that could have prevented the shooting from occurring with proper intervention.
Days after Cruz withdrew from school, he purchased the AR-15 weapon used in the Feb. 14 attack in which 17 people – mostly teenage students – were killed, according to the report.
The report found that while the Broward school system largely supported Cruz, it did not allow Cruz to stay at MSD – his school of choice – with special education support and also did not follow through on Cruz's request to return to Cross Creek School two months after dropping out of MSD.
Cruz, 19, faces the death penalty if convicted of 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder. His attorneys have said he will plead guilty if guaranteed a life prison sentence, but prosecutors have rejected that offer.
A number of other general recommendations for improvement of the handling of students like Cruz were also listed in the report.
"We accept the recommendations regarding procedural improvements, and are pleased with the overall review, recommendations and findings. We are actively reviewing our policies and procedures, training protocols and data systems in an effort to implement the recommendations in a timely and effective way," Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said in a statement.