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Former Stoneman Douglas Administrator Retires Early While Under Investigation

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Scott Travis, Sun Sentinel (Fla.)

Jeff Morford, an assistant principal accused by a state fee of failures associated to the Parkland college capturing, has determined to retire early.

The motion comes in the course of a Broward college district investigation to find out whether or not he needs to be disciplined for his function within the capturing at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High on Feb. 14, 2018, when 17 individuals have been killed and 17 others wounded.

Morford signed up for a deferred retirement program final 12 months and deliberate to go away in 2023, in line with district information. But his final day was Sept. 4, in line with a report on Tuesday’s School Board agenda.

He determined to retire early due to his “total trauma” from the tragedy, mentioned Lisa Maxwell, government director of the Broward Principals and Assistants Association.

She mentioned prosecutors within the prison case for killer Nikolas Cruz have required him to rewatch the video of the capturing, which killed one in every of his shut buddies, Chris Hixon, a coach and safety monitor on the college.

“He’s been retraumatized over and over again,” Maxwell mentioned. “He’s just done.”


See Also: Why Victims’ Families Are Seething Over Broward Schools’ Handling of the Parkland Shooting


Morford couldn’t be reached Thursday.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission, which is investigating the tragedy, concluded Morford mishandled a September 2016 risk evaluation of Cruz, who was a scholar at Stoneman Douglas on the time.

A fee report from late 2018 states that Morford was not competent within the activity and had by no means dealt with such an analysis in his 31 years as an educator.

“Jeff is old school. He only did operations. He never did any discipline at where he was at his previous location and so Jeff said: ‘I don’t even know where to find a threat assessment,’” Assistant Principal Denise Reed testified to the fee.

A scholar instructed the fee that he and a classmate instructed Morford that Cruz may very well be a faculty shooter, as a result of Cruz seemed up weapons on a faculty laptop, mimicked capturing birds on campus, and mentioned he preferred seeing individuals in ache.

The scholar testified that neither Morford, nor a deputy who was within the room, appeared overly involved and Morford instructed the boy to Google “autism,” implying that Cruz had autism.

“Morford told the students that Cruz was being sent to alternative school and they did not need to worry,” the report states.

The fee referred to as on the district to research Morford’s dealing with of the risk evaluation and located his incapability to reply detailed questions was not credible.

The district employed a regulation agency in January to evaluation the actions of Morford, two different assistant principals, and a safety specialist. Former Principal Ty Thompson was added to the record in March.

Runcie instructed the fee final month that the investigation needs to be concluded in late September or early October.

The directors have been transferred to new jobs this summer time. Morford was serving as an assistant principal at Coconut Creek High.

But the brand new project didn’t make issues simpler for him, Maxwell mentioned.

“Post-trauma stress is real and is a horrendous thing he’s been trying to deal with since the day of the shooting,” she mentioned.

In addition to being an assistant principal, Morford acquired consideration final summer time when he opened a bar in Pompano Beach referred to as the Axe Throwing Society. It options 14 ax-throwing “lanes,” which resemble fenced-in batting cages, the place prospects can hurl light-weight axes at picket targets.

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