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SUNRISE (CBSMiami) – A large group of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School teachers protested on Tuesday as a handful of students walked out of classes.
They were showing their opposition to the Broward School District’s decision to reassign 3 assistant principals and the school’s security specialist as part of the investigation into last February’s mass shooting that left 17 students, teachers and staff dead and 17 others injured.
We also learned for the first time how MSD Principal Ty Thompson feels about the reassignments of his top staff.
CBS4 News obtained video of Thompson speaking to a group of students on Tuesday, some of whom appeared to be recording him.
“I’m fighting the hard fight, too, along with the behind the scenes stuff to see what can be done because I’m just as outraged as you guys are,” Thompson said.
The video shows Thompson telling the students that not only was he outraged at the reassignment decisions by Superintendent Robert Runcie but he gave his listeners instructions on making their voices heard, even acknowledging his possible role in any effort to get the disciplined administrators back on campus.
“You gotta reach out to these people, the Superintendent and the school board because they’re the ones that can reverse this,” Thompson said, Later, he added, “Once I can get a little more strategic of what we may be able to do, I’ll be happy to get that out to you. It probably will not come directly from me. But it will come out as to what we may be kind of do to help with this result.”
Thompson made clear that he believes the loss of his administrators was a setback for the school.
“These three administrators had 21 years of experience at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School combined. They ripped that out of here,” he said. He continued that the decision “left with me two administrators with a year and a quarter experience at Stoneman Douglas. You don’t think that’s a concern as the principal? A major concern.”
The Broward School District said the Assistant Principals — Winfred Porter, Jeff Morford and Denise Reed — and Security Specialist — Kelvin Greenleaf — were reassigned based on information from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission.
The Commission found numerous safety and security issues at MSD like unlocked and unguarded gates, prior warnings about confessed school shooter Nikolas Cruz that were apparently ignored and no one calling a code red for more than 3 minutes after the shooting began.
During MSD Commission meetings earlier this month the Commission learned of a “conversation among campus monitors and AP Morford last year about Cruz’s potential to be a school shooter. (The group) joked that Cruz would likely come for AP Morford first because Morford frequently had issues with Cruz” according to a Commission investigative report.
The Commission also learned that a student and teacher said they warned Morford about Cruz in the past.
“Morford told the student that he was being taken out of the school by his parent and he did not have to worry about it,” according to a Commission report. Also, a teacher “immediately went to the office and notified AP Jeff Morford that Cruz was on campus” in 2017, after he was expelled. But “Morford denied” the teacher reported this to him.
Investigators also told the Commission about locked bathrooms on the 3rd floor of the Freshman Building, preventing two students from finding safety away from Cruz during the shooting. Those students were shot and killed. The bathrooms were locked due to persistent vaping problems, the Commission said. It was learned through Commission investigators that Porter ordered the bathrooms locked.
On the video, Thompson spoke briefly about the fallout from the shooting.
“There’s a lot of blame to go around, lets just put it that way for all different kinds of things,” Thompson said. “We feel here at the school that we did what we needed to do on that particular day.”
On Tuesday night following a school safety forum at Piper High School in Sunrise, CBS4 News asked Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie about Thompson’s comments, particularly about being “outraged” by the reassignments.
“Is that surprising to you?” a reporter asked.
“No, it’s not surprising,” Runcie said, before deciding not to comment further.
CBS 4 News also showed the video of Thompson to Max Schachter, whose son Alex was murdered in the school shooting. Schachter was particularly incensed by Thompson’s comment “we did what we needed to do” on February 14th.
“It’s just inconceivable for him to sit here and tell us that they did everything right,” Schachter said. “Seventeen people died on his watch. I know he was on vacation. He wasn’t there. But it was his staff that was trained and his administration. So how he can say they did everything right?”
On the video, Thompson admitted not watching all of the MSD Commission meetings.
“I’ve listened to some of it,” Thompson said. “I refuse to listen to all of it just because.”
Schachter said if Thompson had watched the meetings he would have learned of systemic security failures at the school.
“How could he not watch the testimony?” Schachter said. “You would think the leader of that school would want to know everything that happened at that school on that day that led to the deaths of 17 people.”
Schachter did say that he is pleased that the Broward School District is taking steps to hold people accountable for the shooting. The school district said the administrators who were reassigned have been given administrative assignments and are not working at a school while the investigation into the school response to the shooting and the events that led to it moves forward.
Schachter would not weigh in on whether he believes principal Ty Thompson should be reassigned. Superintendent Runcie was asked that question directly at the safety forum. He would only say that the school district continues to review information provided to them by the MSD Commission and they are expecting additional information later this week.