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 Nikolas Cruz Educational History

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PostSubject: Nikolas Cruz Educational History   Nikolas Cruz Educational History Icon_minitimeFri Aug 03, 2018 11:48 pm

I figured that I could put this in it's own thread for easy access. I've gone through the "redacted" portions of the report and I will copy it to the thread. There is some interesting information but this portion of the report is about 25 pages long. I'd love to hear any opinions on the information contained here.

Prekindergarten – Ages 3 through 5

2001-02 through 2003-04


The student was referred for evaluation in January 2002 at the age of three. Evaluation records indicate that he was referred by his mother subsequent to a prekindergarten screening because of concerns about his behavior and temper. He had recently been asked to leave a private prekindergarten program due to behaviors such as running, kicking, and biting. After an initial screening, the parent provided consent for evaluation January 2002. The initial evaluation focused on language, developmental, and behavioral concerns. In addition to formal evaluation instruments, input from the parent and the student’s current and previous prekindergarten teachers was obtained through interviews and written questionnaires.

The student was 3 years, 5 months old at the time of the evaluation. Results revealed delays in all developmental areas, with overall functioning “similar to a child who has just turned two years of age.” Significant delays in both expressive and receptive language were noted, and results suggested that the student was at-risk for attentional difficulties. Although the student’s teachers and mother reported a series of challenging behaviors, none were rated as significant on standardized measures, and it was stated that some of the behaviors “may be directly related to his overall functioning levels as well as his difficulty understanding language and expressing himself.”

Suggested goals for the student were related to vocabulary; the ability to answer simple questions; concept knowledge; use of prepositions, syntax, and sentence length; following verbal directions and complying with adult requests; attention to task; interactions with peers, individually and in small and large groups; independent toileting; and perceptual motor skills.

In April 2002 the eligibility committee convened with the parent in attendance and determined that the student was eligible for ESE services due to a developmental delay (DD). In Florida, the DD category is applicable only for children ages three though five. Students with this label must be reevaluated by their sixth birthday to determine continued eligibility.

At this same meeting the student’s initial IEP was developed. The IEP included a statement of the student’s present levels of performance that reflected the information provided in the evaluation report. The stated priority educational need was for the student to increase the “ability to understand and express himself and develop age appropriate independent functioning skills.” Annual goals and short-term objectives were developed to address the areas suggested in the evaluation report.

The IEP provided for placement in a full-time language-based ESE prekindergarten program at Country Hills Elementary School. In addition to the specialized educational program provided in the classroom, “close supervision during transitions about the school” and a harness on the bus were included on the IEP. The student started school on April 15, 2002.

In September 2002 the district requested parental consent to conduct additional assessment in the area of speech to address problems with articulation. The evaluation was completed in December and at a meeting in February 2003 the team determined that the student also met eligibility criteria for speech impairment (SI).

An annual review was held and a new IEP was developed. All but one short-term objective from the previous IEP had been met. Information provided in the present level statement revealed that the student continued to struggle in most areas. Academically, the IEP stated that his limited attention span made it difficult to participate in class and comprehend basic concepts. Social interaction was most challenging. He had begun to interact with classmates but required “maximum teacher assistance” and engaged in parallel play most of the time, meaning he would play near other children, but did not interact with them. Aggression such as biting, pinching, scratching, and hair pulling were reported. In the area of communication, the student was able to repeat words in poems, stories, and songs; follow one-step instructions; and answer simple questions, but required maximum teacher prompts to do so.

The priority educational needs stated in the IEP were to increase participation in learning activities and the ability to express wants and needs and to improve peer interactions and comprehension of basic concepts. Annual goals and short-term objectives were developed to address each of these areas. The special education services and supports remained the same as the previous year – placement in a full-time language-based ESE prekindergarten program, close supervision during transitions about the school, and a harness on the school bus.

In August 2003 the student changed schools, enrolling in the prekindergarten ESE program at Riverglades E.S. By this time his behavioral difficulties had become more pronounced. An email from a district Preschool ESE Program Specialist and antecedent-behavior-consequence observation forms from September 2003 indicate that technical assistance was provided to school staff to assist with positive behavior interventions. Recommendations included:

  • Give “warnings” when the time limit is approached and reward him for leaving the area appropriately when the time is up.
  • Use animal-themed stickers or other rewards, as this is a strong interest of his.
  • Consider using the timer for work time to establish when he can go to his place, if needed.
  • Consider use of a “transition object” when leaving his special area; teacher to use discretion.

The following month a parent conference was held to discuss the student’s aggression and animal fantasies. A plan was developed for the classroom teacher to send home activities to help with academic skills, and the parents were offered the services of a family counselor who would go into the home, which they accepted. As noted, the DD category under which the student was served only applies for children up to five years old. The student was turning six the following September, so a full evaluation was needed within the year. It was decided that a psychological evaluation, including social/ emotional assessment, would be conducted in the Spring. The goal was to wait as long as possible to allow the student more time to develop, and still have the evaluation completed and a new IEP in place for the start of kindergarten.

Consent for evaluation was obtained in January 2004 and the evaluation was completed in May. In the interim, an IEP team meeting was held March 2004, as the student’s IEP annual review was due and an updated plan was needed. In June 2004, once the evaluation was completed, the IEP team reconvened to review the results. They then developed an IEP that incorporated the new data and transitioned the student to kindergarten.

The student was five years, eight months old when the evaluation w as completed. The results indicated that his grasp of basic concepts was similar to other preschool students below four years of age. The parents reported that problem behaviors in the home included “being a fussy eater, overly active, nail biting, and not interacting well with friends in the neighborhood.” Regarding his classroom behavior, the evaluator stated:

It must be noted that in particular, [the student] seems to identify as an animal. 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... With high levels of reinforcement, the behaviors reduced, but his aggressive behaviors appeared to be unpredictable; thus, [positive behaviors] could not be constantly reinforced.

While slow but steady progress was reported in the student’s concept knowledge and kindergarten readiness skills, significant behavioral and social developmental problems continued. The following is an excerpt of summary information provided in the report to assist in planning for the student’s educational program:

[The student’s] behavioral observations, anecdotal records, and projective testing are reflective of a youngster who feels overly stressed and anxious. [He] can not organize himself to adapt to his misperceptions and expectations; thus he engages in fantasy as his means of coping with these feelings of stress. [The student] is also impulsive with no sense of boundary; thus, he acts out his fantasies, often explosively, in expressing his feelings of stress and anxiety. Transition times appear to be particularly threatening to him, thus [he] appears to react more aggressively. He presents as in need of predictability. He appears to be in need of much support and effort to keep him engaged and calm enough to shift from one activity to another without becoming stressed and physically aggressive.

At this meeting the student was dismissed from the DD program and determined to be eligible for services as a student with an emotional/behavioral disability (E/BD). The psychologist also recommended that the team consider a referral for psychiatric evaluation to further investigate the need for additional medical intervention. Parent notes from a later date located within the student’s file indicate that the student saw a psychiatrist in July 2004 per the district’s recommendation.

The new IEP included a statement of the student’s present levels of performance that reflected the information provided in the evaluation report and input from the parents. Annual goals and short-term objectives were developed in the domains of curriculum and instruction, social/emotional behavior, independent functioning, and communication. They appropriately addressed the areas of concern identified in the evaluation.

The IEP transitioned the student to kindergarten and provided for separate class placement (i.e., fulltime ESE classroom) at Coral Springs Elementary School. Services included direct specialized instructional techniques in all academic areas daily; social skills instruction and behavior support daily; family counseling at the school two to three times per week; and speech therapy 60 minutes per week. In addition to the school year services, the IEP included extended school year (ESY) services to be provided during the intervening summer break to prevent regression.
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PostSubject: Re: Nikolas Cruz Educational History   Nikolas Cruz Educational History Icon_minitimeFri Aug 03, 2018 11:52 pm

Elementary School – Kindergarten through Grade 5

Despite experiencing the tragic sudden death of his father in August 2004, the student successfully transitioned from the prekindergarten ESE program to a full-time ESE classroom in kindergarten. Although he struggled to achieve reading and math skills, often rushed through his work, tended to avoid new tasks, and often required one-on-one attention from the teacher in order to attend to task, he was described as a hard worker who wanted to please.

An IEP team meeting was held in March 2005. His mother expressed that she was extremely pleased with his progress in all areas. Annual goals were developed in the areas of curriculum and instruction, independent functioning, social/emotional behavior, and communication. Services included specially designed instruction in all academic areas, social skills, and independent functioning in a self-contained ESE classroom. Direct language therapy and family counseling were provided twice weekly.

The student continued to make progress, both academically and behaviorally. While he met the criteria for promotion to grade 1, at the end of the year the school recommended, and the parent agreed to, another year of kindergarten “to create a stronger foundation.”

A systematic process of transitioning to a less restrictive, inclusive placement was implemented during the student’s second year of kindergarten. Notwithstanding ongoing issues with anxiety and hesitance to try new tasks, the student continued to progress. A single incident of aggression and a “verbal threat to self” was reported in November and was successfully addressed by his teachers. At an IEP team meeting in February 2006, the student’s placement was changed to regular class for all academic areas. The ESE teacher monitored his progress and collaborated with the general education teacher. Language therapy was provided three times per week and family counseling was provided once weekly. Accommodations in the regular classroom included daily written communication and collaboration with the parent, additional time for completing tasks, allowing opportunities for physical movement, and close proximity to the teacher.

The full inclusion setting continued successfully into grade one, but by October 2006 the student was exhibiting increased acting out behaviors, inattention, disruption, and aggression. The teacher reported he had become less capable of controlling behavior and was easily frustrated and upset. The classroom incentive plan was modified for the student to provide for more frequent review of behavior. Throughout this time the student’s teacher reported being in constant communication with his mother, and advised her about materials and methods to be used in the home.

These efforts appear to have been effective. At the IEP team meeting held in February 2007, the student was described as follows:

[The student] can demonstrate a very “sweet” demeanor. He has friends in the classroom. At times, he has difficulty interacting with peers. He can perceive them to be making fun of him even when they are not. He is very inquisitive. He is able to transition smoothly from one task to another with much encouragement and prompting. He seems anxious at times. He strives to be “perfect” and when he makes a mistake, he can get frustrated which may lead to an emotional “outburst.”

A decision was made to continue in the inclusion setting with the same level of services.

In May 2007, an interim IEP team meeting was held to address behavioral concerns. Information provided in the IEP included:

Since the onset of the 2007 school period, he has had a marked increase in behavioral outbursts to include physical aggression as well as “shut down” behaviors requiring physical removal from the regular education classroom setting on a minimum of 4 out of 5 days and several times a day on certain days. [The student] also demonstrates behaviors that can last in duration as well as intensity.


At this meeting a decision was made to return the student to a full-time ESE classroom with specialized instruction in academics, behavior, independent functioning, and social skills, with language twice per week and family counseling once per week.

The student remained in a full time ESE setting for grades two, three, and four. During this time he continued to receive medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and participated in counseling from an outside agency as well as from the district-provided family counselor. The student and family continued to receive case management/home services through various outside agencies throughout the time he was in an ESE program.

A reevaluation was conducted during the 2008-09 school year to provide information regarding appropriate educational programming. The student was age 10 years, 8 months and in grade three at the time of the evaluation. His general cognitive ability was within the average range, and he was making steady progress in language skills, although it was re ported that he was working on a modified grade level curriculum due to learning challenges resulting from his emotional/ behavioral disability. His teacher reported that he was often sad and pessimistic. A rating scale completed by the teacher indicated the following:

[The student] was a polite but anxious boy. He needed a predictable, structured setting for transitions and at dismissal. [He] would listen to adults. He apologized if he made a mistake (sometimes unnecessarily). He was helpful to others and to teachers... [He] was often easily distracted and lost items necessary for tasks. If he was annoyed with another student, he might have become aggressive and pushed the student.


The results of the evaluation revealed clinically significant levels of hyperactivity, aggression, anxiety, and depression behaviors and feelings at school. Projective drawings and interviews indicated he was “an anxious child who often prefers to avoid unpleasant situations instead of working through them.” The evaluator described the student’s view of himself:

[He] expressed feelings of sadness and not feeling as if he is in control of things. He reported that nothing goes his way and he does not seem to be able to control what happens to him. He also reported that he almost always feels that his life is getting worse and worse and he used to be happier.

The evaluation noted that the student’s anxiety, poor coping strategies, and problems adapting to change were significantly impacting his academic performance, but that he had made good progress with the ESE support he was receiving. Recommendations included such things as:

  • social skills training in coping with frustration and change of routine;
  • taking on a leadership role should be encouraged; and
  • continue the behavior plan for work completion

The recommendations were incorporated into the student’s program. The IEP developed in January 2010 included the following:

This year [the student] has become more involved in the school setting; he is a representative for Student Council and also a member of the Leadership Team for the school. [He] has interacted within these committees and appears very enthusiastic about being part of these teams. For the Leadership Team, [the student] is very aware of the responsibilities and tries to help the other students. [He] can still be anxious, but not to the point of asking the same questions repeatedly after the question is answered (i.e., Is your radio on?)

Due to Nikolas’ anxiety he continues to need family counseling to process and learn new ways to cope with conflict, as well as, monitoring of his behavior and its progress on a daily/weekly progress.


This IEP was developed to transition the student from a self-contained ESE classroom to a “resource” or part time placement in which he spent approximately 40 percent of the day in a regular classroom and approximately 60 percent of the day in ESE.

In June 2010 the IEP team reconvened and amended the plan to change the student’s placement to regular class for the whole day. The decision was based on his current performance and behavior in the classroom, which was described as follows:

As of June 2010, [the student] has made much progress in the area of social/emotional development. He enjoys participating in the general education classroom and has developed some positive peer relationships in the regular classroom setting. He continues to strive to follow all classroom rules and routines school wide. He has made improvements in the area of taking responsibility for his actions. Currently, he requires much prompting and praise to initiate verbal participation in classroom lessons. The teachers would like to see him volunteer and raise his hand and participate in classroom discussions independently.

Overall, the student had a very successful year in grade five. Progress notes indicated he was improving in all areas and working on grade level in all subjects with the exception of math. Progress notes throughout the year reported that he “tried his best on assignments,” was respectful and cooperative; and worked well with other students.

In May 2011 the IEP team met and developed the IEP to transition the student to middle school. The parent input section includes the following statement:

[The student’s] mother is so pleased with the progress [he] has made since attending our school. She has been pleased with all his educational staff and everything they have done for him to help him with his behaviors and academics over the past seven years here. He is using “big vocabulary words” thanks to Kendra (Speech Pathologist). His mother is so happy with all the progress he has made and feels he is ready for middle school.


The present level statement in the area of curriculum and instruction indicated inconsistent performance in reading but that he was able to read grade level texts, would take his time, and often referred back to the text to find information. He continued to struggle with writing and math but was making progress.

His progress in the areas of social/emotional behavior was notable, although socialization continued to be a struggle. The present level statement included the following:

[The student] gets along with his peers and his teachers. He is very quiet in class. He will not go out of his way to make friends. However, lately at recess, he’s been playing games with his peers. Many times he needs to be asked by others to socialize within a group. He respects authority and follows directions within the school setting. There are times that he needs to be reminded to act appropriately when not in a structured environment.


Progress also was evident in the area of independent functioning. It was noted that he was a “well organized student with his work, work area, planner, note, and homework.” He did his work in class each day, although he needed extended time for some tasks. He asked for assistance when needed.

Annual goals were developed to address mathematics, reading, writing, coping with stressful situations, and language (word meanings). ESE services to be provided within the general education classroom setting included collaboration in all academic areas and in social skills. The student also received direct language therapy twice per week and counseling services once per week. In addition, classroom and assessment accommodations aligned with the student’s social/emotional and language difficulties were provided to allow for verbal encouragement, extra time, oral presentation of directions and prompts, and clarifying or summarizing instructions.

In addition to the supports provided within the school day, the IEP included a bus attendant and seat belt. The reason for the request was that “the use of positive praise and quiet verbal redirection by the bus assistant will assist with and deescalate any behaviors he may engage in due to negative peer interactions on the bus.”

Overall, throughout his elementary school years the student exhibited a pattern of behavioral shifts in which periods of academic and social/emotional progress were followed by periods of escalating negative behaviors, which in turn were followed by periods of positive growth. Throughout these years the IEP team continually monitored, reviewed, and revised the annual goals, services, and placement to meet the student’s then-current needs, ensuring he was educated in the least restrictive environment in which those needs could be met as they prepared him for the transition to middle school. In doing so the team complied with IDEA regulations and adhered to standard practices.
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PostSubject: Re: Nikolas Cruz Educational History   Nikolas Cruz Educational History Icon_minitimeSat Aug 04, 2018 12:00 am

Middle School – Grades 6 through 8

2011-12 School Year – Grade 6


The student transitioned to Westglades Middle School (Westglades) at the start of the 2011-12 school year. As described above, he received ESE services for academics and social development in an inclusive general education setting, with pullout language therapy and counseling. Reports from the first three grading periods indicated that he was making some progress toward his annual goals, and it was anticipated that he would achieve them by the end of the IEP.

There were no disciplinary referrals during this period. Notes from individual and group counseling sessions showed he was an active participant and willingly working on his socialization and organizational challenges. In addition, intervention information provided in TERMS indicates that the student was assigned a peer tutor and a peer counselor during the first semester. The Broward peer counseling program in middle school provides students with the opportunity to meet with trained students “who act as peer supporters and active listeners for their fellow students.”

The IEP team convened in April 2012 to review his progress, determine if formal assessment needed to be done for his triennial reevaluation which was due in September, and develop a new IEP. After reviewing all available information about the student, the team determined that no formal assessment was needed at this time and that the student continued to be eligible for ESE due to emotional/behavioral disability and language impairment.

In developing the IEP, the parent expressed concerned about the student’s social/emotional functioning. She felt it was impacting his progress and stated she planned to consult with his doctor. Present level statements aligned with the parent’s concerns, stating that the student’s grades were negatively impacted by his lack of work completion. They also noted that, while he had become more social with adults in small structured settings, he continued to display anxious behavior and struggled to develop interpersonal relationships with both adults and peers. The annual goals were updated to reflect his current baseline levels of performance. ESE services were collaboration in all academic areas and independent functioning daily, language therapy once per week, and counseling once per week. Classroom and assessment accommodations remained the same.

Shortly thereafter, an abrupt change in the student’s behavior was observed. Review of the student’s disciplinary record reveals there had been no disciplinary referrals requiring formal action until May 2012. At that time, a referral was made for the use of profanity. The student was reported to have used profanity when referring to a classmate. When the classmate told him not to curse he repeated an offensive term over and over. Later during class he yelled out an offensive term when the teacher mentioned two girls. The dean counseled the student and called the parent. One day of ISS was imposed. Two days later a referral was made in another class when the student used profanity multiple times after his phone went off loudly, disrupting the class. The parent was contacted again, and a day of ISS was imposed. A third referral was made that same month when the student yelled out an inappropriate and rude statement. The parent was called again and two days of ISS were imposed.

A fourth referral was made in June 2012, when the student returned a textbook in which he had written profanity in the “issued to” box. When he came to the classroom, he referred to the teacher by his first name. When corrected for this behavior, he continued to speak disrespectfully. The parent was called, an administrative referral was made, and two more days of ISS were imposed.

One of the student’s teachers contacted his counselor and expressed concern about this sudden increase in inappropriate behavior. The counselor met with the student’s math, language arts, and reading teachers to solicit more information, and then conferenced with the parent via phone. The parent also expressed frustration about the recent change. She reported that he has a pattern of acting out during the last month of school and “basically becomes burnt out and sick of school.”

The potential impact of these kinds of behaviors was the topic of subsequent counseling sessions. The student reported that he was doing these things to get attention and to make friends. The counselor talked extensively to him about the possible ramifications if this continued, including that “...if he continues to demonstrate lack of self-control in school, the administration and ESE department may begin to wonder if this school is the appropriate setting for him.” It was explained that this could result in a recommendation for him to attend a behavioral school or ESE center. They also discussed whether the student was possibly sabotaging himself by purposefully setting himself up to fail.

2012-13 School Year – Grade 7

The student returned to Westglades for the 2012-13 school year. At the end of August 2012 he was involved in a fight in the cafeteria and was assigned one day of OSS. Other than a child study team meeting convened in January 2013 to address the student’s attendance, no other incidents that resulted in a formal disciplinary referrals or actions were reported until February 2013. Beginning February 20, 2013, however, there were 19 separate referrals by the end of the school year. The referrals resulted in the following total consequences: three days of detention or timeout; 28 days of ISS; three days of OSS, and referral to AES in lieu of external suspension for 14 days. Fourteen of the incidents involved profanity and/or disruptive behavior similar to the incidents that had occurred the previous Spring, but with increasing intensity. One was for setting a false fire alarm.

The IEP team convened in April 2013 to review progress and develop a new IEP. The parent, the student, his ESE teacher, a general education teacher, an evaluation specialist, the LEA representative, and the family counselor participated in the meeting. The parent reported that the student was very frustrated at school. Information in the present level statements indicate that, while the student’s academic skills were adequate, his behavioral issues were causing significant problems. Examples include:

  • He does not consistently record things in his agenda and often loses track of assignments in folders or in his backpack. He rarely asks questions or seeks out assistance with academics in class or in the resource room. [The student] resists assistance from his teachers.
  • In the classroom setting [the student] causes unnecessary disruptions during class. Recently, the disruptions are all inappropriate for school and at times require removal from the classroom (i.e., screaming, using profanity).
  • Social emotional skills are difficult for [the student] across all school settings. He displays anxious behavior and struggles developing interpersonal relationships with peers and adults... He internalizes and doesn’t ask questions when he needs help. A nonverbal cue was developed to get assistance from his teacher, but he is not using this strategy

The student’s disruptive behavior and inconsistent school work were discussed at length during his weekly counseling sessions. Although he appeared to be trying to learn better ways of responding to stressors in his environment and the impact his poor choices were having, overall progress was limited. He would apologize and commit to doing better, but as noted above, the behavioral incidents continued.

Throughout this period, none of the actions taken involved a suspension of more than ten consecutive days, although in total they cumulated to more than ten days of removal from the student’s educational program. A description of the discipline protections afforded to students with disabilities and the manifestation determination process is provided above in Section IV. As noted, district policy appears to go beyond the legal requirement under IDEA to conduct a manifestation determination when a suspension rises to the level of “change of placement” in that the Parent Participation Form states that one is required “after 10 school days suspension cumulative in a school year.”

As described in Section III, Legal Requirements for Exceptional Student Education, a manifestation determination must be conducted when an external suspension is for more than 10 consecutive school days or when a student is subjected to a series of removals that cumulates to more than ten days in a school year. However, if the student continues to receive educational services that provide FAPE, days of suspension may not count toward the threshold of more than ten days. During the student’s seventh grade year, he was assigned to external suspension for a total of 18 days, but only four of those days were traditional OSS. For the remaining 14, he was assigned to an alternative to external suspension (AES) location with educational services. While there was no reference to a manifestation determination during this time period within the available documents, it also appeared as though the student’s IEP was substantially implemented to the extent that a change in placement requiring a manifestation determination likely did not occur.

2013-14 School Year – Grade 8

The student began the 2013-2014 school year at Westglades. In September 2013 parental consent for reevaluation was obtained. Areas to be addressed included expressive and receptive language, academic achievement, personality/emotional functioning, and a functional behavioral assessment (FBA).

The purpose of an FBA is to identify the function or purpose that a behavior serves for a student so that appropriate interventions can be developed. An intervention is most likely to be effective if it fosters positive behaviors that serve the same purpose for the student as the problem behavior. Intervention strategies may include effective prevention, remediation, or the development of alternative behaviors (replacement behaviors).

During the time the FBA was being conducted the school implemented procedures to prevent the student’s disruptive behaviors. In a memorandum disseminated in September 2013, the grade level administrator notified all of the student’s teachers and support staff that he was “on escort only status.” This meant that the Security Specialist or other staff member would escort him from one class to another, and if he needed to leave the room at any time (e.g., use the restroom; go to the clinic), the teacher was to notify the office and escort would be provided.

FBA process was completed in early November 2013. The FBA included a comprehensive review of all available and relevant data, including behavioral interventions implemented in the past and their effectiveness, direct observations of the student in his current educational setting by members of the evaluation team, and anecdotal reports from multiple teachers.

A behavior intervention plan that incorporated the results of the FBA was completed at that same meeting. It provided for positive strategies to foster appropriate behavior as well as specific instructions on how to respond when the student wad disruptive. The focus was on increasing positive interactions with staff and peers, appropriately communicating frustration and anger, and improving academic performance. When de-escalation was ineffective, the student would be removed from the classroom when the behavior involved major disruption or property destruction.

The psychosocial assessment report completed as part of the reevaluation summarized the student’s social/emotional functioning during this period. Notable citations include:

  • During 6th and 7th grade, although he struggled academically, [the student ] was able to meet academic standards for promotion to the next grade, with “C” and “D” average in all academic subjects. In spite of his social-emotional challenges, [the student’s] behavior was manageable.
  • As an 8th grader, [the student’s] behavioral problems became increasingly worse. He started presenting behavioral difficulties from the beginning of the school year, with increased intensity and frequency, despite all of the interventions in place. His classroom disruption was defined as arguing with teachers, using profanity, refusing to follow directions, walking around and/or out of the classroom without permission.

By this time, the student had been receiving in-home counseling services for several years in addition to the weekly counseling sessions at school. In addition to keeping in close communication with his mother by phone and through parent-teacher conferences during this period of escalating behavior, the school’s collaborative problem-solving team reviewed his case on multiple occasions. His case manager from Henderson Behavioral Health and his therapist from Camelot Mental Health were involved in at least one of these meetings.

Despite the interventions and support being provided to the student, during the period from August 2013 through January 2014, the student received approximately 28 separate referrals that resulted in the assignment of the following consequences in total: 9 days of detention or partial days of ISS; 18 full days of ISS; 14 days of suspension in an AES (including 3 days referred to the Promise program due to vandalism); 4 days of OSS; 10 days of bus suspension; and expulsion from the bus.

Much like what occurred in seventh grade, although the student’s assignment to external suspension cumulated to 18 days within the school year, only four were traditional OSS (i.e., removal from school without any services). The remaining 14 were assignments to an AES with transportation offered so that the he would continue to receive educational services.

Most of the incidents involved insulting or profane language (7), unruly or disruptive behavior (4), disruption on campus (4), or profanity toward staff (4). There were single incidents of disobedience or insubordination, defiance of authority, verbal assault/threat, possession of prohibited items, vandalism, and a false fire alarm. Many people may wonder why a student with 28 referrals was still in school. As described elsewhere in this report, as a student with a disability, federal and state law mandate the continuation of services during periods of suspension. Additionally, as expected under IDEA, during this time the IEP team was implementing a series of individualized interventions and conducting a comprehensive reevaluation to identify ways to better meet the student’s needs.

In early February 2014 the IEP team met to review the results of the reevaluation. Based on the results, the team proposed a change in placement to a Cross Creek, an ESE center school for students with significant social/emotional or behavioral challenges. On February 6, 2014 the student enrolled in Cross Creek.

There were no behavioral issues requiring formal disciplinary action for the remainder of the school year and the student made steady progress in the leveled behavior system implemented at Cross Creek.

As can be seen, the pattern of behavioral shifts originally observed in the elementary grades continued into middle school, but at a much higher level of intensity. It is not uncommon for students this age to test limits and engage in more challenging behavior. A recent BCPS report on discipline rates demonstrates this pattern, with the percentage of students overall receiving referrals for disruptive behavior in 2016-17 increasing from 3.7% in elementary school to 12% in middle school, and then dropping to 7.2% in high school. Similarly, the percentage for acts against persons increased from 1.7% in elementary school to 6.2% in middle school, then dropping to 2.5% in high school. For this student, the impact of his disability made these changes more acute.

Based on the student’s academic and functional performance at the time, the change in placement to a therapeutic behavioral ESE center school provided the student with FAPE in the least restrictive environment. Reevaluation and progress monitoring data informed the decision as required, and the parent was involved throughout the process. Both the sending and the receiving school implemented the district’s established policies to ensure the placement was appropriate. In doing so the IEP team complied with IDEA regulations and adhered to standard practices.
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PostSubject: Re: Nikolas Cruz Educational History   Nikolas Cruz Educational History Icon_minitimeSat Aug 04, 2018 12:05 am

High School – Grades 9 through 12

2014-15 School Year – Grade 9


The student had a very successful year at Cross Creek during 2014-2015. He was enrolled in the core courses of English I, Algebra IA, Earth/Space Science, and World History. His electives were Intensive Reading, Studio Art 2, and Career Research and Decision Making. With the exception of a grade of C during one semester of art, the student made As and Bs in all courses during both semesters and earned seven credits. His teachers reported that he repeatedly expressed his desire to graduate from high school and go into the military. His goal was to be successful enough at Cross Creek that he could leave the center school and attend a “regular” high school.

Although review of the student’s disciplinary record revealed no formally reported disciplinary referrals during this school year, there were isolated incidents in which his continuing difficulties with impulse control resulted in misconduct. As described in the present level statement of the IEP developed in March 2015:

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. [The student] has not had any behavioral issues that required him to be removed from the classroom... He is very easily influenced and was coerced to jump off the back of the bus by a peer. [The student] has difficulty with wanting to have friends and engaging in following the negative behaviors of those peers. He also has poor judgement in social situations. Recently he was punched numerous times by a peer for using racial slurs toward that peer. [The student’s] reaction to the peer that hit him was that the peer needed better coping skills.


Interviews with his teachers from this time period revealed a quiet student who was trying very hard to meet expectations and struggling to fit in socially.

In May 2015 a Cross Creek child study team convened to discuss the student’s progress and the possibility of a change in placement from the ESE center school to the less restrictive setting of a traditional high school campus. Staff reported that the student had made significant progress and had steadily advanced through the school’s level system. Notes from that meeting stated “He’s doing very well. He’s made a lot of progress with therapy at home and in school.” It was noted that there had only been two absences and the student had maintained a GPA of 3.14. Transition to a mainstream setting was recommended. A decision was made 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. Two periods of mainstream would be recommended, with one of them being the JROTC class, as this was an area of interest to the student and aligned with his postsecondary transition goal of enrolling in the military.

In June 2015 the IEP team met for an interim review and to formally consider a change in placement for the student. The meeting was held at Cross Creek, but a representative from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School (Stoneman), the student’s assigned school, was in attendance. It is not BCPS policy to record conference notes for IEP team meetings, but members of the team were interviewed to obtain their impressions of the meeting. They reported that the student had consistently expressed his desire to attend Stoneman and that both the student and his mother were pleased and proud of the progress he had made and were strongly in favor of the move. The IEP was amended to begin the transition process at the start of the 2015-2016 school year.

Based on the available evidence, the special education and related services provided to the student at Cross Creek School were effective in helping him develop effective social/emotional and academic skills and strategies. The IEP team encouraged parent participation in the student’s educational planning and ensured the IEP was reviewed and revised in response to changes in the student’s educational needs, specifically as they related to the provision of FAPE in the LRE.

2015-16 School Year – Grade 10

The student began the transition from Cross Creek to Stoneman in the Fall of 2015. He continued to attend Cross Creek for instruction in core classes and to receive therapeutic services. He then was transported to Stoneman each afternoon for two elective classes (JROTC and Intensive Reading). Throughout this time he continued to make progress in the leveled behavior system at Cross Creek.

The IEP in place during this time continued to provide specialized instruction in all classes, language therapy once per week, counseling once per week, and consultation for school nursing services once per month. In addition to the counseling provided at school, the student participated in in-home counseling provided by a community mental health agency.

For the time he attended Stoneman he also was to be provided consultation once per week in JROTC and once per week in the reading course. The IEP also included a number of accommodations aligned with the student’s learning challenges. Assessment accommodations included such things as repeating, clarifying, or summarizing directions; verbal encouragement; and time and a half of the allotted amount of time. Classroom accommodations included such things as written notes, outlines, and study guides; repeating, clarifying, and summarizing directions in the classroom; and weekly reporting and collaboration with the parent.

In January 2016 the student transitioned to Stoneman on a fulltime basis. The annual IEP developed in April 2016 included specialized instruction in a Learning Strategies course for one period per day (an ESE class); consultation in all academic areas for all other courses two times per month, language therapy once per week, and counseling services once per week. The assessment and classroom accommodations continued from the previous IEP.

The student continued to do well academically. He was passing all classes and earned six credits. The following information regarding academic performance was provided in the present level statements on the IEP:

  • Algebra 1: [The student] currently has an A in class. He tries very hard and works with the only high level student in class on a regular basis. He can be quite disorganized but he seems very committed and his work is always complete, just not usually correct. He will pick up on the skills but needs constant assistance.
  • JROTC: [The student] is doing well, he is well behaved, respectful and polite.
  • Social Studies: Currently the student is passing successfully with an average of 87% and completes all of his work. He is capable of understanding U.S. History, and there are no behavior concerns. He does what is asked of him academically.
  • English: He is extremely quiet in class and often chooses to work alone, even when we are doing group work.

Review of the student’s disciplinary record reveals no disciplinary referrals during the first semester of the school year. There was a single incident in February 2016 in which the student made inappropriate comments that led to two days of ISS.

The following information regarding behavior and social/emotional development was provided in the present level statements on the IEP:

[The student] has shown that he can be a model student.... He has removed himself from peers that are engaging in negative behavior. He takes responsibility for his actions and follows direction. [He] has learned to advocate for himself and has done very well with asking for assistance. He has also learned to seek out the appropriate staff when he is in need. [He] has also learned to use the “stop and think method” of coping. He has learned how to engage in positive/appropriate social interactions with peers.

[The student] enjoys playing on his phone and spending time with his girlfriend. [He] navigates the community independently, and rides his bike throughout the neighborhood. [He] has not had any incidents of stealing since attending this school. He has been very focused on making appropriate choices in both the school and the neighborhood setting.

In conversations with ESE staff the student continued to express his strong desire to achieve the goal of graduating from high school and joining the military.

Based on the available evidence, the student’s transition to the less restrictive environment of a traditional school campus was appropriate. The academic and social/emotional progress he had experienced the previous year at Cross Creek continued throughout his first year at Stoneman. The parent continued to be actively involved in the student’s education and requirements and expectations for reviewing, revising, and implementing an IEP that met the student’s needs were adhered to.
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PostSubject: Re: Nikolas Cruz Educational History   Nikolas Cruz Educational History Icon_minitimeSat Aug 04, 2018 12:13 am

2016-17 School Year – Grade 11

The student began the 2016-17 school year at Stoneman. On September 28, 2016, he turned 18, which meant he had reached the age of majority and the parental rights afforded under IDEA transferred from the mother to the student. Shortly after school started there were significant changes in both his academic performance and his social/emotional functioning. The student was failing four classes and earning Ds in two others. He only earned a total of 2 credits during this first semester.

Review of discipline data reveals that September 2016 the student received a referral for fighting. He was assigned two days of AES. The parent was contacted, and a referral was made to the school social worker.

Shortly thereafter, at the end of September 2016 the student was referred for the use of insulting or profane language, including carrying a backpack with an offensive symbol and profanity written on it. At this same time another student reported that he had spoken to her about depression and suicidal thoughts, and that he said he drank gasoline in an effort to hurt himself and had engaged in cutting behavior.

Broward County Public Schools implements a three-step threat assessment process that includes: (1) Initial Response; (2) Level 1 Screening; and (3) Level 2 In-Depth Assessment. The process is intended to “ensure timeliness of response, safety of all in the school environment, and deployment of the school’s resources in the most efficient manner, according to the facts of each individual case.)

In response to these reports of the potential for self-harm, a threat assessment was initiated. The Level 1 screening process was conducted by a team that included an assistant principal, school social worker, one of the student’s teachers, and a school resource officer (SRO). In addition, written input was obtained from five of the student’s teachers and the student was interviewed. In analyzing the student’s instigating behaviors, which were focused on the potential for self-harm, the team completed the Assessing Level of Threat Checklist. The following items under the High Level of Threat category were checked

  • Threat is direct, specific, and plausible.
  • Threat suggests concrete steps have been taken toward carrying it out. Examples include student statements indicating acquisition or practice with a weapon and/or having the victims under surveillance.
  • Context of the threat suggests student has secured resources, has definite intent and motivation, and/or there is a strong history of conflict and previous high-risk behaviors.

The recommendation s checked on the form were: “Initiate Level 1 Screening process (for medium and high levels of threat)” and “Contact law enforcement.” Based on discussions with staff members, it is understood that the SRO’s participation on the team constituted contact with law enforcement, as the SRO was there in the capacity of a law enforcement official.

The Student Supervision Plan form was completed as a part of the threat assessment process and was signed by participating team members on September 28, 2016. The team checked the following intervention s on the form:

  • Suicide assessment initiated on 9/28/16 – Henderson YES Team
  • Student to sign a violence-free agreement that includes acceptable and unacceptable school behavior with specified consequences for misconduct
  • Late arrival and/or early dismissal ( Note: both options were checked)
  • Alerting staff on a “need to know” basis
  • No longer allowed to bring backpack
  • Monitoring meeting with staff member on a daily basis
  • Identify aggravating circumstances/precipitating factors and employ strategies to help cope with stress/tension ( Note: “failing grades” was written in as a factor)
  • FBA/PBIP completed (attach copies of FBA and PBIP to this report) (Note: copies were not included with the threat assessment document provided)

The suicide assessment conducted by the Henderson Behavioral Health Youth Emergency Services (YES) Team was implemented to determine if involuntary commitment through the Baker Act was appropriate. In accordance with Florida law, a Baker Act can be initiated by a circuit court, a law enforcement officer, or a physician, clinical psychologist, psychiatric nurse, or clinical social. The YES Team is the clinical team used by the district when a Baker Act commitment is being considered by school staff (e.g., due to concerns that a student may have a mental illness, and, because of the mental illness, there is a substantial likelihood that without care or treatment the person will cause serious bodily harm to himself or herself or others in the near future, as evidenced by recent behavior.) As sworn law enforcement officers working within the school setting, SROs also have the authority to initiate commitment under the Baker Act.

During interviews with school staff it was reported that the Henderson YES team determined commitment under the Baker Act was not warranted and that the SRO did not pursue it under his law enforcement authority. Staff also reported that a daily monitoring meeting with a school resource officer was implemented, and the student was no longer allowed to bring a backpack to school. Instead, he maintained a folder in each classroom and used a single folder to transport from back and forth from school to home.

With regard to the student’s failing grades as an aggravating circumstance/precipitating factor noted on the form, strategies to improve classroom performance and deal with stressful feelings resulting from poor grades were topics covered during weekly sessions with his ESE counselor. It is unclear whether additional supports in this area were intended.

With regard to the functional behavior assessment and positive behavior intervention plan noted on the form, it is unclear whether the team checked this item because the earlier FBA and PBIP were reviewed or because the team was proposing to initiate a new process to obtain more current information.

Comments included in the referral documentation at this time included: “Mother was called this morning and all the incidents were discussed. Student is begging mom to get him a Florida ID so he can buy a gun. Mom thinks it is not a serious matter at all. The Youth Emergency Services (YES) team and Henderson was called in.” Staff reported that the parent had expressed that her son’s escalating behavior was due to a recent break-up with a girlfriend, and that he would soon get past it.

Instructions in the district’s Threat Assessment Manual indicate that Level 2 Assessment Summary and Plan of Action is to be completed after the Student Supervision Plan has been implemented for approximately two weeks, or earlier if warranted. The Plan of Action form that formalized the interventions described above was signed off on by an assistant principal and the student on November 4, 2016, with a note that the parent had been contacted by phone that same day. It is unclear why this was not completed sooner, but it should be noted that during the period between the incident that prompted the threat assessment in September and its completion in early November, the supervision plan/plan of action was being implemented and school staff had begun the process of convening an IEP team to discuss moving the student back to Cross Creek.

Because of the personal relationships they had with the student, the social worker and ESE specialist from Stoneman had maintained contact with their counterparts at Cross Creek and kept them informed of his progress. When they heard about the increase in behavioral issues, staff from Cross Creek reached out via email to offer support to Stoneman. As the student’s behavior continued to change during the Fall, they informally discussed the possibility that he might need to return to Cross Creek.

An interim IEP team meeting held was at Stoneman on November 3, 2016. The purposes of the meeting were to consider a possible change in placement and to develop a reevaluation plan. The team included the following participants:

  • Parent
  • Student
  • Stoneman ESE specialist (serving as LEA representative and evaluation specialist)
  • Stoneman general education teacher
  • Stoneman ESE support facilitator
  • Stoneman speech/language pathologist
  • Stoneman family counselor
  • Cross Creek social worker/counselor
  • Cross Creek ESE specialist

Staff from both schools and the parent were concerned about how the student would respond to any discussion about returning to Cross Creek. In the past he had strongly expressed that he very much wanted to attend Stoneman and did not want to attend “an ESE school.” Their concern was heightened by the fact that the student had turned 18 on September 24, 2016. Having reached the age of majority, all of the rights previously held by his mother now reverted to him. He would have to agree with the team’s decision; her consent to placement at Cross Creek would no longer suffice.

Because they realized the student would be upset by the prospect of returning to Cross Creek, only the parent attended the first part of the meeting. Team members wanted to be able to openly discuss the situation with the parent and try to seek consensus on the best course of action. The IEP originally developed in April 2016 was amended to provide fulltime ESE services in an ESE center school. The initiation date for the new IEP was November 14, 2016. Following common practice and district policy, the ten days between the date the IEP was developed and the date it was scheduled to go into effect were provided so that the family would have time to consider the options and, if not in agreement, pursue their procedural safeguards.

The notice included the following statement:

Parent was present at the meeting. If the contact person has not received a verbal or written notification of a disagreement, or parent has not filed a request for due process hearing, the school will assume the parent to be in agreement with the committee and will implement the IEP.

A notice of proposal for change of placement was developed as required. Based on the amended IEP, the notice proposed placement in an ESE center school because:

[The student] requires a structured small group setting to receive specialized instruction in all academics, behavior/social-emotional skills, communication skills as well as to build skills in the area of independent functioning. In addition, he requires access to therapeutic support as needed through-out the school day at this time.

A notice of reevaluation also was developed at the meeting. Regarding the reason for reevaluation, the proposal stated that the student was having difficulty with academics, failing most of his classes due to non-participation, and had struggled emotionally since late September. Specifically, the team proposed reevaluation in the areas of personality/emotional functioning, behavioral functioning, and/or functional behavioral assessment.

All of the IEP team members who were still available were interviewed as part of this review. They were consistent in their description of what occurred during the meeting and in their distress at the outcome. They stated that the parent was in agreement with the need for reevaluation to better understand why the student’s negative behavior had increased so suddenly and what could be done to bring it back under control. She also agreed that placement in Cross Creek was the best option to help her son be successful academically as well as behaviorally but stated her belief that he would never agree to the placement.

Given his history of explosive behavior and destruction of property within the home, staff believed that his mother would try to tell him what he should do, but would not force the issue and ultimately would support whatever final decision he made.

The student was brought in after the parent and staff had shared their concerns with each other and come to agreement with their recommendations. Meeting participants who were interviewed stated that, 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, that he only wanted to stay at Stoneman, and that he intended to graduate from the school.

Trying to calm the student, the Cross Creek social worker and ESE specialist stepped away from the table and spoke with him in a quieter smaller setting. They discussed his recent discipline referrals and explained why he needed to return to Cross Creek for at least long enough to reestablish the positive behaviors he had experienced for the past two years. In an effort to ensure he fully understood the situation, the Cross Creek ESE specialist told the student that he had three options:

  • He could voluntarily return to Cross Creek for a period of time to work on behavior.
  • He and his mother could hire an attorney and “sue the district”* to stop the IEP team from moving him to Cross Creek.
  • He could only stay at Stoneman if he no longer had an IEP. He would have to revoke consent and no longer get any of the ESE services he had been getting.

(* Realizing he would not understand what “due process hearing” meant, she used more lay language “sue the district,” which he did understand.)

The student responded by saying he chose to stay at Stoneman without any ESE services. At that point the meeting was ended.

Under most situations, the options as relayed to the student would be accurate. However, Florida imposes an additional consent requirement when placement in an ESE center school is proposed. In accordance with s. 1003.5715, F.S., consent from the parent (or adult student) must be obtained before the district could remove the student from a traditional school setting and place him in an ESE center school. Under this circumstance, if the student refused to consent to the placement, he would remain at Stoneman unless or until the district itself pursued due process and received approval from an administrative law judge.

BCPS has developed a guidance document titled “Parental Consents and the IEP” for school-based staff participating in IEP meetings. The document, dated August 2016, includes a decision matrix that presents the various situations that might arise and the follow up activities that should be implemented. For this situation, the guidance provides as follows:

  • For an initial decision to place a student in an ESE center school, the IEP is finalized with the decision made by the IEP team for placement in an ESE Center, and the student will remain at the home school with the last agreed upon services and placement.
  • Contact the Due Process Coordinators office immediately and provide the data used to make the decision.
  • The district will make a determination if a due process hearing will be filed by the district to challenge the parent’s decision within ten days.
  • In the event a due process hearing request is not filed by the district, the IEP team will reconvene and reconsider the decision for center school placement.

As described above, the IEP had been developed to have the student withdraw from Stoneman by November 14, 2016, and enroll in Cross Creek. The student had verbally stated his intent to revoke consent for ESE services but had not acted on that decision during the ten-day period. On November 16, 2016, faced with a need to know if the student should be withdrawn from Stoneman or if he still intended to revoke consent for ESE and remain at the school, the ESE Specialist met with him. He strongly stated that would not go back to Cross Creek and was revoking his consent.

Statute requires that a revocation request be in writing, but the student had not prepared a written statement and needed assistance from the ESE Specialist to do so. Even though the student was considered an adult and his mother could not override his decision, IDEA anticipates that parents will continue to be involved in their children’s education and provide guidance. Before preparing the written statement, the ESE Specialist called the parent to discuss it. The parent verified that she continued to support his decision. The revocation request was prepared, and the student signed it.

At that moment, the student was no longer a student with a disability with procedural safeguards under IDEA; unless and until he was evaluated and found eligible for ESE services again, he would be treated in the same way as any general education student. Among other things, this meant that he would have to pass the grade 10 Florida Standards Assessment (FSA), as he was no longer eligible for the waiver of a passing score available to students with disabilities.

In December 2016 the student received a disciplinary referral for profanity toward staff. Comments indicated the student had used profanity when referring to the teacher at least twice and was rude, defiant, and disrespectful. Two days of OSS were imposed.

In January 2017 the student received another referral for “assault (verbal)/threat – low level non-criminal.” Details describing the incident were not available, but the parent was called, one day of ISS was imposed.

In February 2017 the student and his mother met with an assistant principal at Stoneman. Because of the student’s recent disciplinary violations and the fact that he was failing most classes and falling significantly behind in earning the credits needed to graduate, the AP explained that Stoneman was no longer an appropriate placement. He presented alternative educational options and advised them to try the Off Campus Learning Center (OCLC) program. The OCLC provides an online computer-based program in which students work independently at their own pace. Sessions run for four to five hours daily. A teacher is available to supervise the classroom and general operations, but not to teach course content. There is little or no peer interaction among the students.

On February 8, 2017, the student withdrew from Stoneman. He did not return to the school until the day of the incident, just over one year later.

Immediately after withdrawing from Stoneman, the student enrolled in the Riverside OCLC located at Taravella High School. His teachers reported that he was a quiet, hardworking student who kept to himself. In late April 2017 his parent called the ESE Specialist at Cross Creek and said that the student wanted to return to the school. 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. At some point around this same time, the student’s parent also went to see the ESE Specialist at Stoneman to tell her about his desire to reenroll in Cross Creek and to seek assistance with the process.

Under IDEA, when consent for ESE services are revoked, the student becomes a general education student and is subject to the same referral and evaluation procedures that apply to any other student. The Cross Creek ESE Specialist reached out to district staff that same day for guidance on the procedures that would have to be followed. She was advised the student would have to go through the standard process for determining initial eligibility under the State Board of Education rule for emotional/behavioral disabilities. This process would include reviewing all available data to develop an evaluation plan, obtaining consent for initial evaluation, and conducting the evaluation procedures.

In addition to a social/developmental history and psychological evaluation, the rule requires documentation of the student’s response to interventions implemented to target the function of the problem behaviors as identified in a functional behavior assessment (FBA). It was expected that approximately six weeks would be required for general education interventions and data collection.

BCPS has developed a technical assistance paper entitled “Parents’ Rights to Revoke Consent for Continued ESE Services.” In response to the prompt “Can the parent change their mind and request the services again?” the guidance states that in such a situation the required evaluation is considered an initial evaluation but goes on to say “Depending on the data available and the timing of the parental request a complete new evaluation might not be necessary.”

Additional flexibility “in extraordinary circumstances” is provided within the E/BD rule itself through the waiving of general education interventions when “immediate intervention is required to address an acute onset of an internal emotional/behavioral characteristic,” which is defined as:

1. Feelings of sadness, or frequent crying, or restlessness, or loss of interest in friends and/or school work, or mood swings, or erratic behavior; or
2. The presence of symptoms such as fears, phobias, or excessive worrying and anxiety regarding personal or school problems; or
3. Behaviors that result from thoughts and feelings that are inconsistent with actual events or circumstances, or difficulty maintaining normal thought processes, or excessive levels of withdrawal from persons or events.

Decisions regarding the specific evaluation procedures that are necessary for a given student and whether an extraordinary circumstance existed are made by each school’s collaborative problem-solving team.

Because Cross Creek is an ESE center school, only students who have been evaluated and found eligible for ESE services are allowed to enroll there. Therefore, as a general education student at the time, the student could not simply choose to reenroll in Cross Creek. Since he could not transfer to Cross Creek during the period of the evaluation as the parent had requested, the ESE Specialist immediately emailed the ESE Specialist assigned to the OCLC program, as that was his current school of enrollment and therefore would be responsible for initiating and completing the evaluation. Receiving no response, she sent a follow-up email in early May 2017.

The exact communication that occurred around this time is unclear, but the Cross Creek and OCLC staff members spoke via phone. After this call, the Cross Creek ESE Specialist believed that the evaluation could not be completed at OCLC, possibly because the required evaluators were not readily available in that setting, and that the better course of action would be to have the student enroll in Stoneman and have the evaluation conducted there. She immediately contacted the Stoneman ESE Specialist to discuss how this could be accomplished. Together they determined what was needed to get the evaluation done as quickly as possible and began to plan for the documentation to be gathered.

When the Stoneman ESE Specialist approached the school’s administrators about having the student reenroll, she was advised he could not do so at this point in the school year. Assistant principals at the school verified during interviews that, as a traditional school campus, students who are beyond mandatory school attendance age cannot enroll if it is too late in the school year for the student to earn credit and have a grade assigned or if a student is overage and under-credited to the extent that they cannot be expected to graduate within the four-year cohort period. They reported that, based on these factors as well as the circumstances under which the student had been asked to leave Stoneman just two months earlier, he was not allowed to enroll. The Stoneman ESE Specialist called the parent to inform her of the school’s decision, and the parent did not pursue enrollment at the high school.

The OCLC ESE Specialist did not recall exactly what was discussed during the original phone call with the Cross Creek ESE Specialist, but stated she would not have advised Cross Creek that the OCLC could not implement the process, since there is an established procedure for OCLC sites to request an evaluator from the district office and that this is done several times each year. She reported meeting with the student to discuss his desire to access ESE services again at Cross Creek, at which time he told her “he did want the services, but he did not want to be in ESE.” She reported giving him information about outside counseling services he could pursue and encouraging him to speak with the ESE counselor serving the OCLC.

A school district is required to seek consent to conduct an initial evaluation when it has reason to suspect a student may have a disability and need special education services. One example stated in the rule of a situation in which a district would have reason to suspect a disability is “when a parent requests an evaluation and there is evidence the student may have a disability and need ESE services.” In this situation, the student’s school records provided evidence of the ESE services he had received up until the Fall of 2016.

Although the student reportedly expressed that he did not want to “be in ESE,” he did state that he wanted the ESE services he had gotten in the past. As a student with a history of emotional/behavioral disabilities and language impairment, he may not have understood that his request was contradictory – that he could not have the services without being an ESE student.

When a parent (or adult student) requests an evaluation, the district must respond within 30 days by either requesting consent to conduct it or providing written notice of refusal that describes the reasons the district is denying the request. As described above, the first step when requesting consent for evaluation is to convene a collaborative problem-solving team that includes the parent and/or adult student and relevant staff members. That team reviews the existing information, determines what other data are needed given the specific circumstances, and develops an evaluation plan. This did not occur.
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PostSubject: Re: Nikolas Cruz Educational History   Nikolas Cruz Educational History Icon_minitimeSat Aug 04, 2018 12:15 am

2017-18 School Year – Grade 12

The student returned to the Riverside OCLC at the start of the 2017-18. There is no record of any further attempts by the student or his parent to pursue reentry into the ESE program and a return to Cross Creek.

In late September 2017 an incident that resulted in a disciplinary warning occurred while the student was participating in a retake of the grade 10 FSA. Having revoked consent for ESE services, he was now required to pass in the test in order to graduate. Students were not allowed to have any type of phone or other device during testing. At the end of the session it was observed that the student had violated that condition. The teacher checked with the assessment coordinator and was told to invalidate the test. In the written notice of the warning, the teacher described his response:

I told the student his test would be invalidated due to the phone in his possession. He became upset and said “NO, this can’t be.” I said you will be able to retest the next time the test is offered. He said NO, I HATE THIS SCHOOL, kicked my desk, during this time I called Ms. Irons, the phone went straight to her voicemail, I then radioed her, the student during this time push the chair then went back to it, picked it up, and threw it across the classroom and walked out.

Staff reported that the student’s behavior during this incident was surprising as it was so different from his usual demeanor in the classroom.

In October 2017, the student transferred from the OCLC to the alternative high school program at the Dave Thomas Education Center. Unlike the self-paced and self-directed online model implemented at the OCLCs, the program at Dave Thomas functions much like a traditional school environment. Classes are actively taught by teachers following a regular school schedule, and there is peer interaction throughout the day.

The student only attended Dave Thomas for a short time. His 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.

After his mother became ill and unexpectedly died on November 1, 2017, he moved in with a family friend as requested by his mother. He was asked to leave following several arguments, some physical, and the family’s refusal to allow him to have guns. He then moved in with the family of an ex-classmate. Administrators from Dave Thomas reported that they encouraged him to return to the school after his mother died, as they felt he needed the supportive environment they could provide, but he indicated he needed to go to a school closer to the home in which he was staying

On December 15, 2017, the student enrolled in the OCLC at Rock Island. He remained there until the incident on February 14, 2018.

Summary of Progress toward Graduation

The student was reported by each of the alternative education programs to be a conscientious student who diligently tried to do what he was asked. His progress, however, was very slow. Instruction at the OCLC is competency-based, which meant the student could not move on until a specific level of mastery was achieved. As a result, while the quality of his work appears adequate (i.e., quiz and test scores generally 70% or above), he progressed very slowly, and his completion rate was extremely low.

Despite having started out on track – the student had earned 13 of the 24 credits required to graduate while he was receiving ESE services in ninth grade at Cross Creek and tenth grade at Stoneman – he only earned two more credits in the year and a half after he revoked consent and became a general education student. By February 2018 he still lacked nine credits and had not earned any credits while in the alternative education programs.
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PostSubject: Re: Nikolas Cruz Educational History   Nikolas Cruz Educational History Icon_minitimeSat Aug 04, 2018 12:16 am

Conclusion

While the student consistently presented with an emotional/behavioral disability that significantly impacted both academic performance and the development of effective social skills and relationships throughout his education, he also experienced long periods of positive growth during which he achieved his academic and behavioral goals. His parent was actively involved in his education from prekindergarten until her death when he was in grade 11.

In addition to class-wide and individual behavior interventions implemented throughout his elementary grades, in-home mental health or counseling services were made available to support the family. The student’s IEP team repeatedly responded to his changing levels of academic achievement and functional performance and the unique needs that resulted from his disabilities by modifying the type and intensity of services he received as well as his educational placement. As required by IDEA and corresponding State statutes and rules, the student’s educational placement was determined annually and was based on his then-current needs.

Remembering that throughout the student’s school career his IEP 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. With few exceptions, the district adhered to IDEA and state statutes and rules governing services to students with disabilities. Goals and services addressed both academic achievement and social/emotional development. Placement decisions were based on the LRE requirements mandated by IDEA and responses to disciplinary infractions were implemented to meet FAPE requirements and limit loss of instructional time.

The student’s placement during elementary school varied between a fulltime ESE classroom, resource services that had him spend part of the day in an ESE classroom and part of the day in a general education class, and full inclusion in general education. Each of these placements reflected the least restrictive environment in which his needs could be met at the particular time.

As the student transitioned from elementary school to middle school the intensity and frequency of his social/emotional and behavioral challenges increased. School staff and in-home counselors continued to work closely with the parent, but the interventions were only minimally or inconsistently effective. With the consent of the parent, in February 2014 the IEP team changed the student’s placement form his zoned middle school to Cross Creek, an ESE center school where he would receive more intensive and specialized therapeutic services and supports. The goal was to help the student develop and maintain the social/emotional skills he needed to be successful in a less restrictive setting.

By all reports the placement at Cross Creek was effective. After meeting behavioral expectations and achieving academically for a year and a half, in August 2015 he began the process of transitioning back to a traditional school campus. This transition to Stoneman was initially successful, and for a period of approximately one year the student experienced positive academic progress with only minor behavioral challenges. Then, beginning in September 2016, the student exhibited in short succession a series of serious conduct violations that resulted in an IEP team decision to again place him at Cross Creek.

Having reached the age of majority, written consent from the student was required to implement this change in placement. Faced with a return to the ESE center school, the student exercised his right under IDEA to revoke consent for ESE services and thus remove himself from the ESE program. This action precluded the district from continuing to provide him with any ESE services.

With the exception of misstating the student’s options when he objected to the IEP team’s decision to return him to Cross Creek, evidence supports that BCPS adhered to the procedural requirements and substantive intent of IDEA and Florida statutes and rules governing exceptional student education throughout the time he was served as an ESE student.

Based on interviews with district staff and school administrators, these evaluators believe that the student would have opted to remain at Stoneman in his current placement if the options had been accurately communicated to him (i.e., taking into account Florida’s center school consent requirement), and BCPS would have pursued a due process hearing to enforce the IEP team’s decision to place him in the ESE center school. Given his history and the seriousness of the presenting behaviors, it is likely that the district would have prevailed. It cannot be known if the student would have accepted an administrative law judge’s decision for placement at Cross Creek, if such were the outcome, or if he would have revoked consent at that time.

Once consent for ESE services was revoked and the district was required to treat him as a general education student, the district followed state and district procedures for students at-risk of not graduating. In this case, the student was advised to consider one of the district’s alternative education programs because he was overage for his grade, had fallen significantly behind in credits, was failing multiple classes, and had recently been subject to multiple disciplinary referrals. A concern was identified during this time, however, when the student’s school of enrollment was notified toward the end of the school year of his desire to have ESE services reinstated and transfer to Cross Creek and it did not follow through by pursuing consent for evaluation or providing notice of refusal. Since there is no record of the parent or the student pursuing the request when school started up again in August, it cannot be determined whether, in the end, he would have agreed to return to Cross Creek or would have changed his mind if the opportunity was presented.

Appendix B. Enrollment History

2001 - 2002
Initial Eligibility ESE Prekindergarten
Country Hills Elementary School

2002 - 2003
ESE Prekindergarten
Country Hills Elementary School

2003 - 2004
ESE Prekindergarten
Riverglades Elementary School

2004 - 2005
Kindergarten
Coral Springs Elementary School

2005 - 2006
Kindergarten
Coral Springs Elementary School

2006 - 2007
Grade 1
Coral Springs Elementary School

2007 - 2008
Grade 2
Coral Springs Elementary School

2008 - 2009
Grade 3
Coral Springs Elementary School

2009 - 2010
Grade 4 Coral
Springs Elementary School

2010 - 2011
Grade 5
Coral Springs Elementary School

2011 - 2012
Grade 6
Westglades Middle School

2012 - 2013
Grade 7
Westglades Middle School

2013 - 2014
Grade 8
Westglades Middle School & Cross Creek School

2014 - 2015
Grade 9
Cross Creek School

2015 - 2016
Grade 10
Cross Creek School & Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School

2016 - 2017
Grade 11
Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School & Riverside OCLC

2017 - 2018
Grade 12
Riverside OCLC, Dave Thomas Education Center & Rock Island OCLC
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PostSubject: Re: Nikolas Cruz Educational History   Nikolas Cruz Educational History Icon_minitimeSat Aug 04, 2018 5:35 am

I just wanted to say THANK YOU so much for going though all that and posting it! Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Nikolas Cruz Educational History   Nikolas Cruz Educational History Icon_minitimeSat Aug 04, 2018 5:37 am

Thank you SSCC!!


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PostSubject: Re: Nikolas Cruz Educational History   Nikolas Cruz Educational History Icon_minitimeSat Aug 04, 2018 6:50 am

Very interesting, thanks for posting.

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PostSubject: Re: Nikolas Cruz Educational History   Nikolas Cruz Educational History Icon_minitimeMon Aug 06, 2018 12:30 pm

My full educational record would be interesting like Cruz. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Nikolas Cruz Educational History   Nikolas Cruz Educational History Icon_minitimeMon Aug 06, 2018 1:46 pm

Ziamber II wrote:
My full educational record would be interesting like Cruz. Very Happy



I'm not sure that would/should be something to brag about. scratch
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PostSubject: Re: Nikolas Cruz Educational History   Nikolas Cruz Educational History Icon_minitimeSat Aug 18, 2018 3:20 pm

Thanks for posting!!!
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PostSubject: Re: Nikolas Cruz Educational History   Nikolas Cruz Educational History Icon_minitimeSun Aug 19, 2018 7:18 am

Ziamber II wrote:
My full educational record would be interesting like Cruz. Very Happy

I'd like to read mine. I was the class clown.
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PostSubject: Re: Nikolas Cruz Educational History   Nikolas Cruz Educational History Icon_minitimeSun Aug 19, 2018 4:00 pm

Ziamber II wrote:
My full educational record would be interesting like Cruz. Very Happy

I have evaluations and observations of my grades and behavior when i was in school, one of the staff who wrote one of the evaluations and observations said that my 2nd grade self was "obnoxious", but others loved me regardless. I'll post a transcript (with personal info redacted of course) for others to read.
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PostSubject: Re: Nikolas Cruz Educational History   Nikolas Cruz Educational History Icon_minitime

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