School board asks judge to hold newspaper in contempt for reporting on Parkland shooter's past

School board asks judge to hold newspaper in contempt for reporting on Parkland shooter's past
© Getty Images

A Florida school board representing Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of a February mass shooting, has asked a judge to hold a state newspaper in contempt for publishing details of the suspected shooter's education history that were ordered to be redacted from court record.

The Broward County School Board on Monday requested that the Florida Sun Sentinel and two reporters be held in contempt after the reporters discovered that redacted segments of a court report could be read simply by copying and pasting the redacted text into word processing software such as Microsoft Word, according to the paper.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Sun Sentinel, attorneys for the school board allege, knew that the text should not have been used for the report because its reporters had attended the court proceedings where the report's release and redactions were discussed.

“They opted to report, publicly, information that this court had ordered to be redacted despite agreeing, on the record, that this information was protected by both Florida and federal law,” attorneys for the school board wrote.

Julie Anderson, the Sun Sentinel's editor-in-chief, responded Monday, saying the paper had a duty to report on all details of the shooting that were publicly available, as the district had inadvertently made the report.

“After consulting attorneys about the situation, and realizing the school district had made the full report public, we published a second story that gave more context to the report’s findings,” Anderson said.

A legal expert who has represented the Miami Herald and other Florida media organizations told the Sun Sentinel that the district was merely trying to cover up a mistake by blaming the newspaper.

“It looks like the School Board just made a mistake and is trying to deal with its own mistake by asking that the Sun Sentinel be held in contempt,” attorney Tom Julin said. “But the School Board has absolutely no basis to make that request.”

Seventeen students and school faculty members were killed in February when a gunman, suspected to be 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, attacked Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Fla. Survivors of the shooting created the national "March for Our Lives" movement calling for tougher gun restrictions in response.