Law & Courts

Judge: District Had No Duty to Flag Danger From Student in Parkland Shootings

By The Associated Press — February 09, 2021 2 min read
Law enforcement officers block off the entrance to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 15, 2018 in Parkland, Fla., following a deadly shooting at the school.

A Florida judge has ruled that a local school district had no responsibility to warn students and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School of the danger posed by a former student who would later be accused of a mass shooting that killed 17 people.

Broward Circuit Judge Patti Englander Henning said Monday that the Broward County school district cannot be held liable for failing to predict actions that were beyond its control, the South Florida SunSentinel reported.

Nikolas Cruz awaits trial on multiple murder charges and faces the death penalty if convicted. He’s also accused of wounding 17 people with an AR-15 assault-style rifle in the attack at the Parkland school on Feb. 14, 2018.

Families of the victims have sued Cruz, who was 19 at the time, as well as the school district, the Broward Sheriff’s Office and on-duty deputies who failed to stop the massacre.

“The District had no control over Cruz,” the judge ruled. “They did not have custody over him. He was not a student in the system and had not been for over a year. In fact, he was refused access to the campus once he left school. Nor did the district have pre-knowledge of a definitive threat by Cruz.”

It is another loss for the families trying to hold officials accountable for failing to prevent the mass shooting.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled in September that for insurance purposes, the district can treat the shooting as a single incident, capping liability at a total of $300,000 to be split among all the victims who have filed suit.

And in October, Englander Henning ruled that the victims of the shooting and their families will have to turn over some records of their mental health treatment since the tragedy.

The judge also said the plaintiffs are relying on too many “what if” questions to build a solid legal claim for damages.

“There is no foundation for the argument that if Cruz had been sent to a different program, and if he had been treated as a higher threat years before the incident, and if he had been criminally charged years earlier so he’d have been convicted and could not buy or own a gun, and if he had never been permitted to attend Marjory Stoneman Douglas, then he would not have been on this campus and would never have committed the crime,” the ruling said.

Among the plaintiffs is Anthony Borges, who was shot during the rampage.

“How is a kid supposed to feel safe attending a public school under those conditions?” asked attorney Alex Arreaza, who represents Borges. “That ruling puts every child in danger. To think that the school board has no obligation to warn us of anyone else like Nikolas Cruz in the system should give all parents a deep concern.”

Attorney Eugene Pettis, representing the Broward School Board, declined to comment about the details Monday afternoon but told the newspaper that he believes the ruling speaks for itself.

Copyright 2021 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Events

Student Well-Being Webinar Boosting Teacher and Student Motivation During the Pandemic: What It Takes
Join Alyson Klein and her expert guests for practical tips and discussion on how to keep students and teachers motivated as the pandemic drags on.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Holistic Approach to Social-Emotional Learning
Register to learn about the components and benefits of holistically implemented SEL.
Content provided by Committee for Children
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
How Principals Can Support Student Well-Being During COVID
Join this webinar for tips on how to support and prioritize student health and well-being during COVID.
Content provided by Unruly Studios

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Arizona School Data Analyst - (AZVA)
Arizona, United States
K12 Inc.
Software Engineer
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
Proposal Writer
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
CCLC Program Site Director
Thornton, CO, US
Adams 12 Five Star Schools

Read Next

Law & Courts Accused Texas School Shooter to Remain at State Hospital
Doctors say the student accused of fatally shooting 10 people at a Texas high school in 2018 remains incompetent to stand trial.
1 min read
Santa Fe High School freshman, Jai Gillard writes messages on each of the 10 crosses representing victims in front the school in Santa Fe, Texas on May 21, 2018.
Santa Fe High School freshman, Jai Gillard writes messages on each of the 10 crosses representing victims in front the school in Santa Fe, Texas on May 21, 2018.
Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle via AP
Law & Courts School District Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Decide Scope of Transgender Student Rights
A Virginia district appeals a ruling in the case involving Gavin Grimm's effort to use a restroom consistent with his gender identity.
3 min read
Transgender student Gavin Grimm challenged a policy of the Gloucester County, Va., school board that barred him from using the men's restroom. The school board has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case.
Transgender student Gavin Grimm challenged a policy of the Gloucester County, Va., school board that barred him from using the men's restroom. The school board has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case.
Kristen Zeis/The Daily Press via AP
Law & Courts 3 Years Later, Parkland School Shooting Trial Still in Limbo
It's been more than 1,000 days since a gunman with an AR-15 rifle burst into a Florida high school, killed 17 people, and wounded 17 others.
4 min read
Magaly Newcomb, right, comforts her daughter Haley Newcomb, 14, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, at a memorial outside the school in Parkland, Fla on Feb. 18, 2018. It’s been more than 1,000 days since a gunman with an AR-15 rifle burst into the school, killing 17 people and wounding 17 others.
Magaly Newcomb, right, comforts her daughter Haley Newcomb, 14, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, at a memorial outside the school in Parkland, Fla on Feb. 18, 2018. It’s been more than 1,000 days since a gunman with an AR-15 rifle burst into the school, killing 17 people and wounding 17 others.
Gerald Herbert/AP
Law & Courts Sotomayor Declines Parents' Request for Relief From School Vaccination Requirements
The U.S. Supreme Court justice turned down families seeking to enroll their children in remote learning while lacking school immunizations.
3 min read