As questions continue in the aftermath of the Parkland school shooting, the Broward School District recently cleared administrators at the school, even after an outside investigator blamed them for several procedural failures contributing to the 2018 massacre.
A committee of district administrators did not find just cause on May 7 to discipline Ty Thompson, who was principal of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School at the time of the shooting, or Assistant Principal Denise Reed. Both individuals were reassigned from the school last year.
Jeff Morford, another assistant principal at the school who has retired, was also cleared of most of the allegations against him.
However, he was given a letter of reprimand for mishandling a 2016 threat assessment of the student who would kill 17 people and injure another 17 on Feb. 14, 2018.
Records obtained by the Sun Sentinel show that attorney Jennifer Ruiz, whose firm was contracted by the district to conduct a review, accused Thompson of failing to adequately supervise school employees.
“The evidence shows that Mr. Thompson delegated away many of his own responsibilities or duties to his assistant principals, but failed to implement any type of system to oversee compliance,” she wrote.
Ruiz adds that Reed and Morford botched the killer’s threat assessment, and that Morford also ignored various warning signs and provided testimony lacking credibility.
A statement from Kathy Koch, the district’s chief communications officer, said Ruiz’s role was to research and present facts, which was was done “comprehensively and thoroughly.”
Koch adds that the decision to determine whether there was cause for discipline was up to the committee.
“The committee concluded there was not just cause,” the statement goes on to say.
We honor the memory of these brave students & teachers; their families and friends; the injured, the MSD community & those that love them. We will never forget their names or faces. Forever in our prayers and in our hearts. #MSDstrong #2getherinServiceandLove #wewillneverforget pic.twitter.com/I3NIo19uT9
— Broward Education Foundation (@BrowardEdFound) February 14, 2020
Lisa Maxwell, who represents the three administrators as executive director of the Broward Principals and Assistants Association, responds, “The investigator had no idea of how any of the processes actually work. All she did was try to be a rubber stamp for the statewide commission, and she failed miserably.”
She described Ruiz as a “lawyer from Miami with no background in investigations, absolutely zero understanding of how schools operate.”
Ruiz also completed investigations of Assistant Principal Winfred Porter and Security Specialist Kelvin Greenleaf.
In the end, she found no cause to discipline Greenleaf. However, she determined that Porter, who oversaw the school’s security, failed to ensure staff knew how and when to activate emergency Code Red lockdown procedures.
The Professional Standards Committee also overturned that recommendation and cleared Porter.
The only employees who ended up facing any severe discipline were two security monitors whose contracts were not renewed in June 2018.