There’s a concerning piece in the Sun Sentinel that describes how alleged mass shooter Nikolas Crus refused special education/mental health services at age 18, and how there was nothing the school district could do about that.
The intersection between HIPAA and FERPA is one that has come up before – most notably after the Virginia Tech shooting in April, 2007. But in this case, we are also talking about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (I.D.E.A.). The superintendent claims that there was nothing the district could do once the student, with the parent’s support, refused services. Well, did the district initiate due process in the form of an impartial hearing? I don’t know if we’ll find out, but districts seldom initiate impartial hearings to push services on reluctant students. But given how many people were concerned about the student’s mental health and predicting problems, it seems like there should have been something the district could have done.
That they failed to get Cruz’s mother to support their recommendation for services is likely a big part of the problem. So if the student, with support of the parent, refused an alternate placement, did the district offer more mental health services in the less restrictive environment? And if so, did the student also reject that option?
But what I’d really want to know is what happened during the time that the student had accepted the special needs services? How much progress, if any, had he made, and did he feel he was making any progress as a result of the services?
There’s so much information we’re missing. And yes, we do need to talk about mental health, but we also still need to talk about restricting gun access and sales.