Parkland School Board Targets Local Paper For Exposing School District's Failures

Caleb Tolin | August 7, 2018
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On August 4, the Sun Sentinel, a newspaper in South Florida, published a story exposing redacted information detailing how the Parkland School Board knew they failed to help the Parkland shooter for years before the 19-year-old walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14 and shot 17 people to death.

Now, the Board is mad that everyone knows their secrets.

According to the original report, the PSB released a consultant’s report with much of the information electronically blacked out. Unfortunately for them, anyone could copy and paste the information into a new document and the censored information would be revealed.

The uncovered information exposed two major faults of the PSB. According to the Sun Sentinel:

- 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.

Now, the Parkland School Board is demanding that the court hold the Sun Sentinel and two of its reporters, Brittany Wallman and Paula McMahon, in contempt, claiming that because the reporters knew that the information was confidential and redacted and not meant for the public eye, the material could not be legally disclosed.

But some actual attorneys don’t agree with the Board’s legal argument.

“The problem is the School Board’s problem and not the Sun Sentinel’s,” said Tom Julin, a media law attorney. “The Sun Sentinel is entitled to publish the information that it lawfully obtained even if that information should have been redacted from the document that was released.”

This isn’t the first lawsuit the Parkland School Board and the Sheriff’s office have been involved in. In fact, they have found themselves in quite a few legal battles regarding their failure to protect the students in their district.

(Cover Photo: Barry Stock)

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