Paper faces contempt for story on Fla. school shooting suspect
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A Florida newspaper faced an ethical dilemma after a school district's mistake exposed details that were supposed to be redacted from its lengthy examination of the education of school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz.
The material two judges had ordered kept secret shows that Broward County school officials failed to follow state and federal laws that provide for disabled students.
It lays out in abundant detail why Cruz needed the school system's therapeutic services. It describes how bureaucratic failures essentially left the mentally disturbed 18-year-old without support for 14 months leading up to the attack that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
The district publicly released the report Friday with nearly two-thirds of its content blacked out to protect Cruz's privacy rights. But the report was prepared in a way that anyone could see the entire text after copy-pasting the blacked-out report into a Word document.
Alerted by a reader that the full report was visible, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel decided it couldn't hold back these details, and had a duty to report Friday night on the mistakes school officials made.
Events surrounding the shooting are "of the utmost importance to our community," Editor-in-Chief Julie Anderson explained in a story today.
The Broward County school board is urging the judges to hold the paper and two of its reporters in contempt.
The board's filing says the newspaper "opted to report, publicly, information that this court had ordered to be redacted despite agreeing, on the record, that this information was protected by Florida and federal law. This is a clear violation of court orders and constitutes contempt of court."
The Associated Press and other media organizations limited their Friday reports to the blacked-out version, which was more general in nature.