The Broward County School District, which presides over Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, wanted reporters jailed for doing their jobs in the wake of the massacre where 17 students were killed.
“The district’s chief lawyer, Barbara Myrick, asked a judge this week to hold the newspaper and two reporters in contempt of court for publishing an uncensored report about the Parkland school shooter,” said a Sun Sentinel report from August. “She said she never consulted the school board despite filing the action on the board’s behalf.”
The district was forced to make a long-awaited report on Nikolas Cruz, the deranged killer, public by court order, but about two thirds of the report was originally redacted for “privacy” concerns. However, two enterprising sleuths at the Sun Sentinel realized that due to an error by the district, the full, unredacted report could be viewed.
“Reporters Brittany Wallman and Paula McMahon, acting on a Facebook tip from a reader at 7:30 p.m., discovered that the district had erred in how it redacted the report,” the report said. “Anyone could copy and paste the report into a Microsoft Word document to make all of the text visible.”
From the unredacted report, the journalists wrote their story, which led the district to attempt to silence them by holding them in contempt. The school board denied knowledge of their lawyer’s actions, claiming that she acted without consulting them.
“The decision was made without my consultation, and I would like to have a say in what’s going on right now,” board member Robin Bartleman said according to the report.
Sun Sentinel editor-in-chief Julie Anderson backed her reporters.
“I don’t understand how the School Board can sue the Sun Sentinel and the board members didn’t approve that,” she reportedly said. “Regardless, we will defend our reporters and the Sun Sentinel’s right to publish an important story based on a lawfully obtained report. We feel strongly that we didn’t break the law and have no regrets for publishing the school district’s history with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooter.”
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