At times, Nikolas Cruz’s behavior could be a school administrator’s nightmare: Teachers and other students said he kicked doors, cursed at teachers, fought with and threatened classmates and brought a backpack with bullets to school. He collected a string of discipline for profanity, disobedience, insubordination, and disruption.
In 2014, administrators transferred Cruz to an alternative school for children with emotional and behavioral disabilities — only to change course two years later and return him to a traditional neighborhood school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Cruz was banished from Douglas a year later for other disciplinary violations — then toggled between three other alternative placements, school records obtained by the Miami Herald show.
If the frequent transfers — records show there were six in three years — did little to stanch Cruz’s disruptive behavior, they eventually became the only option left in the school district’s toolbox. Contrary to early reports, Cruz was never expelled from Broward schools. Legally, he couldn’t be.
Under federal law, Nikolas Cruz had a right to a “free and appropriate” education at a public school near him. His classmates had a right to an education free of fear.