Parkland Shooting Suspect Was Referred to Discipline Program Before Shooting, School Officials Confirm

Updated | Nikolas Cruz was reportedly referred to a discipline program years before he allegedly killed 17 students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida. However, it's "unclear" whether Cruz actually attended the program.

After Cruz vandalized a middle school bathroom in 2013, he was assigned to Broward County Public Schools' Promise ("Preventing Recidivism through Opportunities, Mentoring, Interventions, Supports and Education") program, school district spokesperson Tracy Clark confirmed to WLRN. The program allows students who are charged with nonviolent offenses to be handled by school officials instead of law enforcement. It represents a step away from "zero tolerance" policies.

One day after the vandalism incident, Cruz reportedly had an intake interview at Fort Lauderdale's Pine Ridge Education Center, an alternative school facility where students assigned to Promise attend. "It does not appear that Cruz completed the recommended three-day assignment/placement," Clark told WLRN.

Cruz's academic records, the services provided to him, as well as policies and procedures during the period which he attended Broward County Public Schools, are the subject of a report that will be released in June. Conducted by an independent firm, the review was announced by the superintendent in March.

"Broward County Public Schools has correctly and accurately stated that Nikolas Cruz did not participate in the Promise program, which is for nonviolent infractions, while attending Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School," Clark said in a statement to Newsweek.

Clark confirmed that Cruz had an intake interview for the program but that it "does not appear" he completed the recommended three-day assignment/placement.

"Rather than speculate about the possible reasons for his not returning [to the alternative school where the program is held], we feel it's important to wait until we have the facts associated with his specific circumstances," the statement read.

The Broward County Sheriff's Office also confirmed that Cruz appeared not to have attended the program, reported the outlet.

Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie previously denied that the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School gunman had ties to the program. The district specifically cited Cruz's high school record with Promise and had not mentioned any middle school disciplinary actions.

"Contrary to media reports, the district has no record of Nikolas Cruz committing a Promise-eligible infraction or being assigned to Promise while in high school," Broward County Public Schools said in a March statement.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Monday tweeted a link to the WLRN article and said the issue was not the program itself "but the way it is being applied." "It may have created a culture discourages referral to law enforcement even in egregious cases like the #Parkland shooter," he said.

Ryan Petty, who lost his daughter Alaina in the Parkland shooting, responded harshly to the developments late Sunday, reported the Sun Sentinel.

Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of first-degree murder in connection with the February 14, 2018 massacre.

This story has been updated with a statement from the Broward County Public School District. Newsweek has reached out to the Broward County Sheriff's Office.

Parkland Shooting Suspect Was Referred to Discipline Program Before Shooting, School Officials Confirm | U.S.