Former teachers say alleged school shooter Nikolas Cruz wasn't somebody who slipped through the cracks, he was somebody they worked hard to get help for. The teachers say that after behavioral problems in middle school and high school, they tried calling social workers, holding parent conferences, and sending him to counseling. "His behavior in class wasn’t constantly wrong, but every once in a while, it was," a teacher who worked with Cruz in sixth grade tells the Washington Post. "He would just spew something out of his mouth that was inappropriate." She says teachers worked "very, very hard" to get Cruz into a school that helped emotionally disturbed youth. They eventually succeeded, but he ended up leaving the school for Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, where he is accused of killing 17 people.
"I was so uncomfortable around him, I did not want to be alone with him in my classroom," another teacher says. Teachers say Cruz's acting out included fighting, outbursts in class, and writing threats on his homework, including one saying former President Obama should be "burned alive and eaten." The Post notes that in 2013, Broward County began a program to fight the "school-to-prison pipeline" by using counseling and other measures instead of calling the police on students accused of infractions including assault. Local 10 has obtained video believed to be of Cruz fighting other students at Stoneman Douglas. He was reportedly suspended for two days after the September 2016 incident, one of five times he was disciplined before he was expelled. (Prosecutors say they haven't decided whether to seek the death penalty for the school shooting.)