School officials pull assignment that asked whether Parkland shooter should die

PARKLAND, Fla. -- The Parkland high school massacre is a sensitive subject anywhere, but it's especially so in South Florida schools near where the shooting occurred.

That may explain why one high school, a 10-minute drive from the scene of the massacre, ditched an assignment for students that explored the shooting in what some consider a tone-deaf way.

Coral Glades High School pulled a quiz Friday entitled "Does Nikolas Cruz Deserve to Die?" The quiz was based on material from an article with the same title in the October edition of The New York Times Upfront magazine, a publication for high school students by Scholastic Inc. and the newspaper. The quiz dealt with the Constitution's Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment and the death penalty.

Most of the outcry arose because of the quiz's title and the fact that it was given to students just five miles from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and teachers were killed in February. Cruz, a former student at Stoneman Douglas, has confessed to committing the massacre and faces 17 counts of first-degree pre-meditated murder and 17 counts of first-degree attempted murder.

Cameron Kasky, who survived the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas and later helped start the March For Our Lives movement, blasted the Coral Glades school over the Cruz assignment.

"This worksheet was given to students in @BrowardSchools. I cannot begin to express how pathetic I find this," Kasky tweeted. "Our school board should add this to the list of 1000+ reasons to be ashamed."

A statement from Broward County Public Schools indicated that the school's leaders didn't know about the assignment.

"Coral Glades High School administration was unaware that an assignment, which included insensitive content concerning Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, had been distributed to students today," the statement read. "The material was from a subscription-based publication, used as a curriculum resource. The school's leadership has pulled the assignment, is instituting an approved review process of all such materials and regrets that this incident occurred. Broward County Public Schools is working with the publisher to make them aware of our concerns."

Scholastic Inc., which publishes The New York Times Upfront, apologized.

"The October 8, 2018 issue of NY Times Upfront contained an article about capital punishment, with a headline that referenced the perpetrator of the tragic Parkland shootings. A quiz in the accompanying teacher's guide also mentioned the perpetrator by name. The article and the quiz were intended only to provide a platform for meaningful conversations around the history, civics and social impact of the death penalty," Scholastic said in a statement. "We deeply regret if the use of this real life example added in any way to the ongoing suffering of the students, families and educators of the Parkland community."

Prosecutors have said they plan to seek the death penalty against Cruz.