I was on the HOWARD STERN show in NYC. This is a picture of me irritating Ronnie the Limo driver with my forensic profile of him. He was not happy.
Be honest. Are you really surprised that the New York Times has stood by its decision to hire Sarah Jeong as an editorial board member even after it was revealed she spent years on social media making openly racist and sexist remarks about white men? You may be outraged, sure. But surprised?
To paraphrase a well-known political figure, Ms. Jeong could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot a white person without losing the support of liberals. It’s a safe bet she was tapped by the Times because of these racial prejudices, not despite them. Editorial board members are hired to help formulate and express the official position of a newspaper. Ms. Jeong is being hired to speak for the Times, and they like where she’s coming from.
The Grey Lady attacks President Trump as a racist and sexist on a near-daily basis, and columnists like Charles Blow write about little else. So is it hypocritical for the paper to hire and defend a new editorial board member who has made no secret of her own biases? Of course it is, but that’s considered beside the point by people who share Ms. Jeong’s worldview.
The liberals who control most major media outlets specialize in applying different standards to different groups. Like the Times, Twitter had no problem with Ms. Jeong’s repugnant observations. Scores of tweets that included offensive phrases—“#cancelwhitepeople”; “are White people genetically disposed to burn faster in the sun?”; “White people have stopped breeding. you’ll all go extinct soon. that was my plan all along”—didn’t faze Jack Dorsey’s content monitors. But when conservative activist Candace Owens decided last weekend to reproduce Ms. Jeong’s posts and replace “white” with “black” or “Jewish,” Twitter temporarily suspended her account. Following a backlash, Twitter restored the account and claimed that “we made an error.”
Of course, the Times can hire whomever it pleases. But if it’s going to give the likes of Ms. Jeong a pass while lecturing us about growing intolerance on the political right, how seriously should readers take the paper’s nonstop Trump-is-a-bigot coverage? The president’s attacks on the media are often misguided and overstated—his daughter Ivanka is right; we’re not the enemy of the people—but major news outlets are doing plenty to erode public confidence in the news without any help from Mr. Trump.
Welcome to another example of the left’s inconsistency on race. If the goal is a postracial America, why does racial identity continue to be liberalism’s overriding obsession? Why is racism viewed as something to redirect rather than end outright? If you’re situated on the progressive left, racist views are OK to harbor so long as they’re targeted at the right groups for the proper reasons?
At Harvard, Asian students are currently out of favor among administrators for the sin of taking up too many slots in the freshman class. America’s most prestigious university, a bastion of liberal thinking, is being sued by Asian students for discrimination. Harvard wants a certain racial balance on campus, and Asians are getting in the way by academically outperforming applicants from other groups. The nerve.
Harvard can no longer credibly deny that it’s engaging in systematic racial discrimination. Internal documents that the school has been forced to disclose to fight the litigation suggest that Harvard is doing what has long been rumored. Nonetheless, school officials justify these racially biased practices. They insist, like Ms. Jeong and her defenders, that such bigotry is in the service of a noble cause. Unlike you or me, Harvard knows how to discriminate the “right” way.
Prior to World War II, and long before Harvard and other Ivy League schools had an “Asian problem,” the concern was too many Jews on the quad. The parallels are instructive. “Jewish students outperformed their Gentile classmates by a considerable margin,” writes Jerome Karabel in his 2005 book, “The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale and Princeton.”
Then as now, the schools came up with ways to overcome that reality by de-emphasizing objective admissions criteria. Jews were less likely to participate in athletics or belong to social clubs other than Jewish fraternities, both of which were deemed “character” flaws for the purpose of bringing the “Jewish invasion” under control. These days, Asian applicants to Harvard receive consistently low “personal” ratings, which are then used to undercut their academic achievements under Harvard’s “holistic” assessment of their worthiness.
So long as the goal is not to level the playing field but to tilt it in a different direction, expect history to continue repeating itself.
By Jason L. Riley
Airline efforts to corral the menagerie of animals in airplane cabins have fizzled this summer.
Delta, American, United and other carriers tightened requirements on emotional-support animals, trying to curb the dramatic increase in dogs, cats and other creatures flying uncaged with airline passengers. In some cases, 50-pound dogs share space in cramped coach seats with their owners and neighboring passengers.
Delta says it has had six biting incidents in the past 60 days. The airline now carries about 700 emotional-support animals and service dogs on flights each day, up from 450 a day in 2016. The total number of animal incidents on airplanes—from urination to barking to biting—has increased 84% since 2016, says Gil West, Delta’s chief operating officer.
In June, a Delta flight attendant was badly scratched by a pit bull and Delta banned that breed from riding in its cabin. “I think we’ve hit a tipping point,” Mr. West says. “We’re very concerned about the safety of our customers and our crew.”
Last year, the number of pets carried by U.S. airlines (usually for a fee in the cabin or cargo hold) increased 11% to 784,000, according to Airlines for America, the industry’s lobbying organization. The number of service animals increased 24% to 281,000, according to A4A. And the number of emotional-support animals leapt 56% in that one-year period, to 751,000.
In general, service dogs undergo lengthy training to aid an owner with a disability, including sight-limited or physically limited people and people with diagnosed emotional issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Emotional-support animals can be untrained and provide benefit simply from companionship. They aren’t considered service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Delta and United implemented new rules in March, Alaska in May and American in July. The airlines now require documentation from veterinarians that emotional-support animals are healthy and trained to behave properly in public. Passengers must turn in documents 48 hours before departure. Some airlines require a letter from a mental-health professional certifying the passenger’s need for an ESA or psychiatric service animal.
Airlines say these changes are as far as they can go under current federal rules. And the changes have had minimal effect so far, they say.
United says the number of in-cabin pets it carried dipped in February, compared with the same month in 2017, after the airline announced tighter rules, and was down in March when the requirements went into effect.
But then the volume increased again in April, went higher in May and stayed up all summer at comparable levels to last year. United has seen a 75% increase in onboard incidents in the past year.
“This has gone too far,” spokesman Charles Hobart says. “The March 1 rule changes represent our best approach to insuring onboard safety and reducing fraud under the DOT’s existing rules.”
Delta says numbers have bounced up and down, and it’s too early to tell the full impact, since some changes didn’t kick in until July 10.
In May the Transportation Department asked for public input on possible rule changes. Now the agency says it is reviewing the 4,467 comments it received.
The DOT tried once before to issue new rules, but an advisory board it established couldn’t agree on limits and definitions. It’s possible this effort could run into the Trump administration’s opposition to new regulation. But in this case, airlines are begging for new regulations rather than opposing them.
In a statement, the DOT says it’s not against all new regulation. “There should be no more regulation than necessary, and those regulations should be straightforward, clear and designed to minimize burdens consistent with safety, consumer protection and access to air travel,” a DOT official said.
Airlines are urging the DOT to make guidelines in the Air Carrier Access Act similar to the Americans With Disabilities Act. The ACAA is far broader.
Some travelers like being able to take their pets with them when flying. Many insist the animals do provide necessary emotional support amid the rigors and stresses of air travel today. Many travelers don’t want their pets to travel as cargo in the belly of planes.
But people who rely on highly trained service animals for daily needs say their service dogs can be provoked by aggressive dogs unfamiliar with airports and airplanes. If a service animal acts out, it may have to be retired. People with animal allergies say flights with multiple pets have grown more common, exposing them to more allergens.
And travelers say they are running into more animal incidents. Rani Khetarpal, a marketing executive from California who has elite status on several airlines, says flight attendants on an American flight she was on July 12 refused to work the trip because of a large pit bull on board. They feared a confrontation with the dog in the aisle.
The captain intervened and convinced the dog owner to switch seats with someone in a window seat, so the flight attendants could work in the aisle without mingling with the dog. The flight departed only slightly late.
“I just think there should be stricter parameters put around it,” Ms. Khetarpal says. “I don’t know what that looks like. There is a need, but people are taking advantage of the ESA policy, and it’s not right.”
When airlines first imposed fees of up to $125 each way on traveling with pets, people started sniffing around for loopholes. Declaring a pet an emotional-support animal evades fees and rules limiting the size of pets allowed on board. Certificates and doctors’ letters that many airlines require are readily available online.
But airlines say fee avoidance is far from the whole story. The number of passengers paying pet fees continues to go up. There’s also a cultural change happening. Pets are family, welcomed at hotels and restaurants. Once air travel with pets became easier, the barn door opened.
J.D. Floyd, a traveler who logs more than 100,000 air miles a year as a financial consultant, has seen countless dogs and one ferret fly as emotional-support animals. They cause fewer problems than rambunctious children, he says. To him, emotional-support animals have just become the latest way to game the system and thumb a nose at harsh airline rules.
Mr. Floyd points to passengers who haul oversize bags to gates and then line up quickly when agents ask for volunteers to check bags, thus avoiding baggage fees.
“It’s not just emotional-support animals when it comes to travel gaming,” he says.
By Scott McCartney
if “released from custody, there is a substantial likelihood defendants may commit new crimes due to their planning and preparation for future school shootings”.
A man arrested after 11 malnourished children were found in a remote desert compound was training them to commit school shootings, US media report.
According to prosecutors’ documents, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj was teaching some of the children, who are aged one to 15, how to use weapons.
Mr Wahhaj was one of two armed men arrested at the scene on Friday in New Mexico. Three women were also arrested.
Police say the remains of a boy were also discovered at the compound.
Found on Monday, the remains are those of Mr Wahhaj’s missing three-year-old son, Abdula-Ghani Wahhaj, the Taos News reports.
Mr Wahhaj is suspected of abducting the boy from his Georgia home in December, and it was the search for him that led to the arrests.
The toddler suffered from seizures according to the missing person’s report filed by his mother.
But Mr Wahhaj believed the boy needed to be exorcised, say court papers.
Prosecutor Timothy Hasson filed the documents on Wednesday, but did not discuss the accusations in court, the Associated Press reported.
Mr Hasson requested that Mr Wahhaj be held without bail.
“He poses a great danger to the children found on the property as well as a threat to the community as a whole due to the presence of firearms and his intent to use these firearms in a violent and illegal manner,” Mr Hasson wrote in court documents.
CNN reports the legal filings also warn that if “released from custody, there is a substantial likelihood defendants may commit new crimes due to their planning and preparation for future school shootings”.
The complaint cites a foster parent of one of the 11 children as saying Mr Wahhaj “had trained the child in the use of an assault rifle in preparation for future school shootings”, US media say.
All five adults arrested at the compound last week face child abuse charges.
Lucas Morton was the other man arrested at the scene.
Three women, believed to be the children’s mothers, were also “arrested without incident” and booked into the Taos Adult Detention Center, according to the sheriff’s office.
Police have not explained what connection the women – named as Jany Leveille and Subhannah Wahhaj, both 35, and 38-year-old Hujrah Wahhaj – have to each other.
The officers who discovered the children said they looked “like Third World country refugees not only with no food or fresh water, but with no shoes, personal hygiene and basically dirty rags for clothing”.
Authorities had raided the site after receiving a message from someone that read: “We are starving and need food and water.”
Police said they had been aware of the compound for some time but had to wait for a search warrant before entering, as the occupants were “most likely heavily armed and considered extremist of the Muslim belief”.
Mr Wahhaj was armed with an AR-15 rifle and four pistols when they encountered him, they said.
According to New York media, Mr Wahhaj’s father, Imam Siriaj Wahhaj, is a prominent Muslim leader in Brooklyn, who has been called “one of the most admired Muslim leaders” in the US.
He reportedly testified as a character witness at the trial for Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was later convicted of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
In 1991, he became the first Muslim to lead an opening prayer before the US House of Representatives.
The recent protests in Portland has not been covered accurately by many in the media.
Here are the facts:
- A biohazard cleanup crew works under police protection. It finds used needles and buckets of human waste simmering in nearly 100-degree heat.
- The smell of urine and feces fills the block. For more than five weeks, as many as 200 people had occupied the site.
They’re gone now, but a community is left reeling. Thirty-eight days of government-sanctioned anarchy will do that.
- A mob surrounded ICE’s office in Southwest Portland June 19. They barricaded the exits and blocked the driveway.
- They sent “guards” to patrol the doors, trapping workers inside. At night they laid on the street, stopping traffic at a critical junction near a hospital.
- Police stayed away. “At this time I am denying your request for additional resources,” the Portland Police Bureau’s deputy chief, Robert Day, wrote to federal officers pleading for help.
- Along a wall, vandals wrote the names of ICE staff, encouraging others to publish their private information online.
- An ICE officer, who asked that his name not be published, told me one of his colleagues was trailed in a car and confronted when he went to pick up his daughter from summer camp. Later people showed up at his house.
Where were the police? Ordered away by Democratic Mayor Ted Wheeler, who doubles as police commissioner. “I do not want the @PortlandPolice to be engaged or sucked into a conflict, particularly from a federal agency that I believe is on the wrong track,” he tweeted. “If [ICE is] looking for a bailout from this mayor, they are looking in the wrong place.”
- I walked through and saw young children, including infants, in squalid conditions and 90-degree heat.
- Every American flag was defaced. Anarchist and communist flags were unsoiled.
- They repeatedly called a black officer “traitor” and “house nigger.” They shouted that they knew where the officers lived, and published more addresses online.
The same day Mayor Wheeler again pledged not to intervene. In a statement, he whitewashed the lawless behavior: “I join those outraged by ICE actions separating parents from their children, and support peaceful protest to give voice to our collective moral conscience.”
- The Hakes family, which owns the Happy Camper food cart across the street from ICE’s office; The mob “terrorized our family” and forced the business to close, Julie Hakes told me. She said people wearing masks threatened to hurt her and burn down the cart, and the police never responded to their frantic calls.
- Charles Williams, a 62-year-old man who lives across the street, said someone threatened to stab him with an “AIDS-infected needle.”
- Lisa Leonard, a 53-year-old disabled resident, said occupiers hit her on her head, disabled her electric wheelchair, and lifted her in the air when she complained about loud drumming. She called police, who took a statement but made no arrests.
Portions of this article are from Andy Ngo. Mr. Ngo is an editor at Quillette
Here is the complete confession of Nikolas Cruz
The teenager accused of killing 17 people at a Parkland, Florida high school in February said in a taped confession that he heard “voices” in his head and wanted someone to “just kill me,” according to a transcript released Monday.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, told a detective that the voices in his head began after his father died, and worsened after his mother died of pneumonia, just months before the rampage. Cruz said a voice at one point told him to “Burn, kill, destroy.”
Cruz also told police during the interview, conducted right after his arrest for spraying bullets into his classmates at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day, that the voices told him to buy a gun.
The transcript was released by the State Attorney’s Office in Broward County on Monday and a video of portions of the confession will be released Tuesday.
At one point, the detective doing the interview, John Curcio, asked Cruz if he wanted a drink of cold water. Cruz replied, “I don’t deserve it.”
Curcio left the room briefly to get him a cup of water anyway. That’s when Cruz, alone in the room, remarked that he wished he could be killed. Cruz continued to say on the recording that he deserved to die.
“I want to die,” Cruz said during the recording. “At the end, you’re nothing but worthless s—, dude. You deserve to die because you’re f—ing worthless and you f—ing (unintelligible) everyone. I want to die.””
Details of the shooting are blacked out, but the transcript otherwise deals with the death of Cruz’s parents, his penchant for killing animals, his former girlfriend, his brother, guns, suicide attempts and, especially, the voice.
Cruz said he heard the voice the morning of the shooting, according to the confession transcript.
Much of the 217-page confession is redacted. According to Florida law, any information revealing “the substance of a confession” is exempt from public disclosure until the case is resolved. A Broward County judge last month ruled the non-confession portions of Cruz’s post-shooting statements could be made public, according to the Associated Press. Cruz’s attorneys did not want the document disclosed, saying it would hinder his right to a fair trial, the AP reported.
The content of the transcript is expansive; Cruz discusses his brother, his ex-girlfriend, being adopted, previous drug use and incidents in which he killed animals. Cruz mostly talked about the voice in his head.
Cruz told the detective about his suicide attempts. He said after his mom died, he tried to kill himself by swallowing over-the-counter pain medication. Another time, he tried to poison himself with alcohol.
The transcript shows Cruz spoke so softly at times, the detective had trouble hearing and asked him to speak up multiple times.
Cruz asked the detective to call a psychologist. When the detective asked him what he wanted to talk to a psychologist about, Cruz said, “To find out what’s wrong with me.”
Cruz told the detective he bought his first gun at 18 and collected three shotguns, an AR-15, a handgun and an AK-47. His mother had taken him to buy some of the guns, the transcript states.
The detective asked him whether his mom ever asked why he was buying so many guns. Cruz said he told her they were for his protection and because they looked “cool.” He also said the voice wanted him to buy guns.
Cruz told the detective he bought guns to protect himself from the voice and also kept the guns locked up to keep the voice from getting to them. Cruz estimated he spent about $4,000 on firearms and ammunition.
Cruz told the detectives multiple times he was lonely. He had no friends and scared girls away, Cruz said.
The voice in his head kept him from being lonely. Curcio asked him if the voice was like an imaginary friend.
“Almost, yes,” Cruz said.
The detective asked him why he wanted to be friends with someone who tells him to do bad things.
“To have somebody,” Cruz said.
The detective asked Cruz whether the voice told him to buy the AR-15 he is accused of using in the shooting. Cruz said yes.
“I don’t really believe there is a voice to be honest with you,” Curcio told Cruz.
Cruz insists there is a voice.
The detective doubles down on Cruz about there not being a voice toward the end of the interrogation. Curcio insisted Cruz simply liked guns and that was why he amassed them.
The detective asked Cruz why he never tried to stop the “demon” and the voice. Curcio told Cruz he could have sought help with a psychologist, seen a priest or told his mom while she was still alive. The suspected gunman could have asked for medication or smoked marijuana, which Cruz had already done and said helped quiet the voice, Curcio said during the interrogation.
Cruz had a multitude of ways to stop the demon in his head, according to Curcio.
At that point, Cruz appeared to become agitated. He asked Curcio if he could have some time to think about the demon and why he hadn’t tried to stop it.
“I think you like the demon,” Curcio told Cruz.
“I don’t like the demon. I don’t like the demon. I don’t like the demon. I don’t like the demon,” Cruz said.
Eventually, Cruz asked for an attorney and repeated four times, “I’m scared.”
“Why wouldn’t he protect me?” Cruz asked.
Curcio said he didn’t know, walked out of the room and told Cruz to yell if he needed anything.
When Curcio left, Cruz said: “Why didn’t he kill me? Why didn’t he kill me? Why didn’t he kill me? Why didn’t he kill me? Why didn’t he kill me?”
Curcio returned and handcuffed Cruz’s hands behind his back.
There are a lot of things Facebook doesn’t want you talking about on their platform and you can add another item to the list. It seems talking about your family’s suffering through the genocide of the communist Kmer Rouge dictatorship in Cambodia is a deal breaker for Facebook.
One can only wonder if talking about the unspeakable atrocities and crimes committed against humanity by Cuba’s communist Castro dictatorship will soon be added to that list as well.
Heng Gets Facebook Blocked
So this happened yesterday. Heng’s campaign had tried to place this video as an ad on Facebook. It begins with her family’s roots — amidst the horror of Cambodian genocide.
And Facebook responded with a big ixnay.
Is the Cambodian Genocide now a non-event? Or just too icky for the Silicon Valley Boys?
The Heng campaign released this statement yesterday:
This Friday, Facebook revoked approval to advertise Elizabeth Heng’s campaign video detailing why she is running for office in the 16th Congressional District of California. Her video, which includes the story of her American immigrant parents who lived through the atrocity of communism and genocide that ravaged Cambodia in the early 1980s, evidently contained content too “shocking, disrespectful or sensational” for the platform, to quote Facebook directly.
On March 7th 2018 we posted this article 5 Reasons Why Parkland Florida School Officials – Nikolas Cruz’s Family Are Liable
And now an official report for the Broward County Public Schools proves our contention that the management and legal failures of administrators created the foundation for this crime.
In the year leading up to the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, killer Nikolas Cruz was stripped of the therapeutic services disabled students need, leaving him to navigate his schooling as a regular student despite mounds of evidence that he wasn’t.
When he asked to return to a special education campus, school officials fumbled his request.
Those conclusions were revealed Friday in a consultant’s report commissioned by the Broward public school system. Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer ordered that the report be released publicly, but with nearly two-thirds of the content blacked out.
The school district said the alterations were needed to comply with the shooter’s privacy rights, but the method the district used to conceal the text failed. The blacked-out text became visible when pasted into another computer file.
What emerged was the first detailed account of Cruz’s years in the school system, what the school district knew about him and what mistakes were made.
Without directly criticizing the schools, the consultant, the Collaborative Educational Network of Tallahassee, recommended that the district reconsider how cases like Cruz’s are handled. The recommendations suggest that Cruz could have been offered more help in his final two years in high school, leading up to the Feb. 14 shooting.
Whether that would have changed the outcome is impossible to know.
The consultant found that the district largely followed the laws, providing special education to the shooter starting when he was 3 years old and had already been kicked out of day care. But “two specific instances were identified,” the report says, where school officials did not follow the requirements of Florida statute or federal laws governing students with disabilities.
— School officials misstated Cruz’s options when he was faced with being removed from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School his junior year, leading him to refuse special education services.
— When Cruz asked to return to the therapeutic environment of Cross Creek School for special education students, the district “did not follow through,” the report reveals.
In part because of the errors, Cruz had no school counseling or other special education services in the 14 months leading up to the shooting on Feb. 14, the report says.
In an interview late Friday night, Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said that district officials had wanted to release the full report but did not intentionally post it in a way that allowed the blacked-out portions to be read. “I didn’t even know that was possible,” he said.
Runcie said the redaction of parts of the report was to comply with judges’ orders and the defense’s objections to the report being made public: “It should not be insinuated or suggested at all that we wanted to redact or hide portions from the public.”
He said the purpose of the report was to explain to the public what happened, to fix any problems identified by the experts and to provide better training for staff in the future. The details accidentally revealed do not alter any of the conclusions, Runcie said.
“Nobody ever said this was an average child,” Runcie said of Cruz. “The district was the one — out of all the agencies — that was providing some level of service to the child.”
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.
Three days after he was forced by the district to withdraw from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, he purchased an AR-15 rifle. A year after his ejection from Marjory Stoneman Douglas, a school he insisted he would graduate from, he returned and murdered 14 students and three coaches.
Some special education experts have told the South Florida Sun Sentinel that the district should have looked for other ways to help him in his final two years of school, before the shooting. The district treated him like a general education student for his final two years. Cruz left Stoneman Douglas two or three months after giving up his special education services.
The long-awaited analysis largely absolves the district of culpability, minimizing mistakes as “compliance concerns” and noting the analysis was not done “through the lens of hindsight.”
“Remembering that throughout the student’s school career his … teams were acting without benefit of foresight regarding the incident that occurred in February 2018, the decisions they made were reasonable given the available information at the time,” the consultant concluded. “With few exceptions, the district adhered to [federal law].”
Runcie said the review shows that the district’s “systems are appropriate” and that the district worked consistently “to provide an education and ongoing, changing behavioral care for Cruz throughout his time in the Broward school system.”
Cruz’s attorneys called the report a “whitewash” commissioned by the school district to clear it of responsibility for how it handled Cruz’s complex psychological problems.
“I think that the report is an attempt by the school board to absolve itself of any liability or responsibility for all the missed opportunities that they had in this matter,” said Gordon Weekes, the chief assistant public defender who is the spokesman for the defense team.
The report does recommend changes, but many are not specific and don’t say how the Cruz case brought the weaknesses to light. For example: “Review existing data systems to identify redundancies and inefficiencies and determine the most effective way to integrate multiple systems, maximizing accuracy and shareability across users.”
The district paid the Tallahassee-based consultant $60,000 for the review.
Neither of the parents who adopted Cruz as a child could be consulted for the report. Roger Cruz died of a heart attack in front of Nikolas Cruz when he was 5. Lynda Cruz died of pneumonia last November.
But the consultant found that Cruz, by the time he was 3, had already been kicked out of a pre-kindergarten program and was identified as a developmentally delayed student needing special education.
He was aggressive — biting, pinching, scratching and pulling hair. He had trouble communicating and following instructions. And he exhibited “animal fantasies” that led to a parent-teacher conference and the assignment of a family counselor in the home. Despite “high levels of reinforcement,” his aggressive animal-like behaviors “appeared to be unpredictable,” the report says, citing school records
Judge Elizabeth Scherer proposes trial for Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz in September 2019. Attorneys weighing in, asking for more time.
“It must be noted that in particular, [the student] seems to identify as an animal,” the report says, citing an evaluation completed when Cruz was 5. “He often crawls on the floor or ground, pounces on another student, makes seemingly animal-like growling sounds and grimaces while holding his hands in a paw-like manner.”
He eventually dropped the predatory animal fixation, but his behavior continued to be tinged with physical violence.
The special education designation brought extra care and attention — in-home family counseling, speech therapy, a peer counselor, extra time to do his work, waivers from some testing, continual reviews of his progress and his struggles, meetings with family. But each attempt to transition him to a regular classroom failed. His outbursts and physical aggression in first grade required him to be removed from class at least four of five days, and several times a day on certain days, for example.
His third-grade teacher reported that he was “often sad and pessimistic” and apologized unnecessarily. He needed structure and predictability.
“The results of the evaluation revealed clinically significant levels of hyperactivity, aggression, anxiety, and depression behaviors and feelings at school,” the report states.
Some of the school interventions drew attention to his differentness. He had a harness on the school bus in pre-kindergarten. And at the start of his eighth-grade year, he was placed on “escort only” status at Westglades Middle School in Parkland. He was to be accompanied by a security specialist or staff member wherever he went, including the restroom or when moving from one class to another.
Over the years, his behavior patterns did not change, except to worsen.
Though he didn’t want to be in a school for kids with troubles, he excelled when during his eighth-grade year, he was moved back to a full-time special education campus at Cross Creek School, a Pompano Beach school for children with severe emotional and behavioral disorders.
“By all reports the placement at Cross Creek was effective,” the report says.
That’s where he might have remained, had the district not decided to give him a chance at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.
Send him to MSD
He still exhibited emotional and behavioral problems, but in May 2015, during his ninth-grade year, when he was 16, school officials recommended he return to a “mainstream setting,” at least for part of the day.
“Although [the student] has made behavioral progress he continues to lack impulse control. He needs to be monitored while in both the school and neighborhood communities,” a report in March 2015 said.
He would attend Marjory Stoneman Douglas High for ROTC and intensive reading, they decided. In addition, they agreed to “discontinue the behavior intervention plan. During interviews school staff explained that this decision was based on the fact that the target behaviors were no longer in evidence and the plan was no longer needed.”
Behavior intervention plans ensure that everyone dealing with a student knows what sets him off and how to reinforce better behavior.
In January 2016, during his 10th-grade year, he became a full-time student there. Just three weeks later, the Broward Sheriff’s Office got a tip that he posted on Instagram that he planned to shoot up a school.
Collaborative Educational Network determined that the decision to send him there was the right one.
“Based on the available evidence, the student’s transition to the less restrictive environment of a traditional school campus was appropriate,” the report says. His only discipline that semester was a two-day in-school suspension for “inappropriate comments.” He had a girlfriend, the report says, and still strongly desired to join the military after graduating.
Time to go
As had been the case in the past, his success was short-lived.
He had an emotional meltdown in September of his junior year. And on Nov. 3 that year, a meeting of Stoneman and Cross Creek specialists was convened. Lynda Cruz was present.
With her son not in the room, those in attendance agreed he should return to Cross Creek school. They knew he’d be upset. His mother agreed with the transfer, but she told those in the room that she thought he would reject the idea. It was up to him, they said. He had turned 18 on Sept. 24.
“Upon entering the room and seeing the Cross Creek representatives, the student immediately became upset and verbally aggressive. He refused to sit at the table, angrily repeating that he would not go back to Cross Creek and that he wanted only to stay at Stoneman. He intended to graduate from the school,” the report says, summarizing what those in the meeting said in interviews with the consultant.
“They were consistent in their description of what occurred during the meeting and in their distress at the outcome,” the consultant wrote.
Two Cross Creek personnel took him aside and told him his options: He could return to Cross Creek to work on his behavior, he could sue the district to try to reverse the decision, or he could remain at Douglas as a regular student, rejecting all special treatment and services for kids with challenges.
He told them he wasn’t going to Cross Creek. Still, he didn’t put the decision in writing. Douglas staff nudged him about it and wrote it up for him.
The moment he signed the form, he lost all protections for disabled students under federal law. Though the district knew he needed services and had put in writing just two weeks prior that he “requires access to therapeutic support as needed through-out the school day at this time,” they began treating him “in the same way as any general education student.”
The consultant said the options laid out for Cruz were incorrect. Cruz could have remained at Douglas with his current rights and services, and the district had the burden of proving he should be transferred to Cross Creek.
The consultant recommended the district review and revise guidelines governing cases like this, including cases where the student doesn’t follow through by signing paperwork to revoke special education. Staff should “remain neutral and [be] able to act without either promoting or hindering the revocation” of services, the consultant recommended.
The recommendations also suggest that Cruz wasn’t offered help that general education students are entitled to.
The district should review and revise current training, the report says, for when “a student is known to have social/emotional or behavioral needs and therefore, as a general education student, should have access to the counseling and mental health services available to all students through the district’s multi-tiered system of supports.”
By February, without the extra protections, he was failing most classes and administrators told him it was time to go.
He was referred to Riverside Off Campus Learning Center at Taravella High School, where students work independently online. There is supervision, but there is no one teaching course content, though Cruz struggled with academics his entire life.
“On February 8, 2017, the student withdrew from Stoneman,” the report says. “He did not return to the school until the day of the incident, just over one year later,” the report says, obliquely referring to the murders.
He was on track to graduate during the time he received special education services, the report says.
After he signed the paperwork to leave special education, he earned only two credits over a year and a half — and none from three alternative education schools he attended.
Change of heart
Two months after he was kicked out of the high school, his mother called to say he had changed his mind. He wanted to return to Cross Creek.
“She said he had come to realize that the only way he would achieve his goal of graduating from high school would be to return to Cross Creek,” the report says.
The district had 15 years of paperwork on Cruz but determined he would have to be evaluated and found eligible for exceptional student education services, a process Douglas High estimated would take six weeks. On that point, the consultant again refrained from criticizing directly, but suggested the district revise its rules in cases where the evidence that the student needs special education is already firmly in place.
Special education specialists at Cross Creek, Stoneman Douglas and at Riverside, where he was a student, all were involved in his request to return to Cross Creek’s special education campus. Ultimately, the administrators at Stoneman Douglas, where he was to re-enroll for a new evaluation, refused to accept him back.
The consultant gave a light touch to the mistake, saying the district had an obligation to respond to the student’s request for special education services within 30 days and “this did not occur.”
At the beginning of his senior year in September 2017, back at Riverside school, he was taking a standardized test that, as a general education student, he needed in order to graduate.
The proctor told him his test would be invalidated because he had a cellphone. He became upset, saying, “No, this can’t be.” He shouted “I hate this school!” and threw a chair across the room.
He transferred to another alternative public high school, the Dave Thomas Education Center, where teachers “described him as a quiet, polite student who tried to do well but struggled academically. They made a point to saying that he did not exhibit any of the aggressive or dangerous behaviors reported elsewhere, nor, despite the fact that almost all of his teachers were minorities, did he show any of the racial or ethnic bias they had heard about in the news.”
On Nov. 1, his mother, an advocate throughout his schooling, unexpectedly died.
Staff at Dave Thomas encouraged him to return to the school, but he and his brother Zachary had moved to the Lantana Cascade Mobile Home Park in Palm Beach County to live with a former Parkland neighbor, Rocxanne Deschamps. Deschamps kicked him out several weeks later.
In mid-December, after moving in with a Parkland family, he enrolled at another school, the Off Campus Learning Center at Rock Island. He remained there, the report says, until “the incident.”