PARKLAND, Fla. (CBS12) — New documents obtained by CBS12 News show the challenges students face in the months after one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. A rise in depression, drugs and discipline problems. “We’re still struggling, trying to fill out those gaps,” said Kim Krawczyk, math teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Krawczyk was teaching honors geometry when a former student stormed in and opened fire. “I heard the first three pop, pop, pop,” she said. Krawczyk heard the confessed killer reload
his rifle right outside her classroom door. The gunfire and the screams eventually stopped “None of us were prepared for what we saw,” she said. “My floor was a massacre.” Krawczyk and her students saw Scott Beigel, a beloved geography teacher and cross-country coach, dead in his classroom doorway. She also lost two of her students, Alex Schachter and Alaina Petty. Both students were only 14 years old. Thirteen others died that day and multiple people were injured. Since the shooting, Krawczyk has seen the signs of extreme stress in students, some acting out, others internalizing the trauma. “One of the things we’ve struggled with was how to teach a traumatized brain? Because they learn differently,” she said.
Last year, the U.S. Department of Education granted Broward County Public Schools $1 million in grants to hire counselors, social workers and behavioral specialists. The district is fighting for additional resources to help. This summer, the district asked for more money in grants, citing students falling behind on their coursework and an increase in incidents of self-harm. In the application, the school district said state research shows drug abuse, fighting and threats have all increased in Parkland and all across the district. The letter said from 2017 to 2018, compared to 2016 to 2017, the occurrence of the following incidents have grown: drug use/possession (637 from 511 incidents), other major offenses (367 from 317 incidents), physical attacks (128 from 34 incidents), threats/intimidation (368 from 337 incidents) and tobacco (439 from 127 incidents). Those numbers came from the School Environmental Safety Incident Reports (SESIR), provided to the Florida Department of Education, according to the school district. The grant application also shows Stoneman Douglas has made it into the top 10 high schools in the district battling substance abuse. Stoneman Douglas was not even on the list before the shooting. “You’re going to see the incidents of stress-related things go up. You’re going to see more absences, more drop outs, more substance abuse,” said Dr. Patricia Shutt, a clinical psychologist with Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches. Dr. Shutt specializes in trauma. Many of her clients are Stoneman Douglas shooting survivors. “It’s one of our most basic needs, is to feel safe. Many of those kids lost that experience of being safe in school,” Shutt said. She said the first line of treatment is what’s known as EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy. It’s been used to treat PTSD in the military and it targets specific traumatic memories. “It restores a sense of connection with other people, because when trauma happens, not only do they disassociate the actual traumatic event, but it can actually create a separation and disconnection with people and their feelings,” Shutt explained.
Eagles’ Haven in Coral Springs, located minutes away from Stoneman Douglas, uses a different approach. “We don’t do therapy here. We help people get connected to the other parts of their wellness,” said Melissa Rosen, Team Leader at Eagles’ Haven. The sanctuary of hope opened after Sydney Aiello and Calvin Desir, two survivors of the Parkland shooting, took their own lives last spring. “A lot of people in the community felt really isolated following the tragedy,” Rosen said. “This is a place for them to come together and meet new people.” At Eagles’ Haven, survivors can try everything from power yoga and kickboxing to art as an outlet to manage their grief, guilt and frustration. “We’re making sure that other people know that there’s hope there, and wellness is a huge part of that healing process,” Rosen said. For Krawczyk, a tattoo and a special gift from the 25 students she protected in her classroom that day has helped her heal. She still checks in regularly on the students from room 1257. “They still have the opportunity to be the person that they were born to be, but it just might be a different road to get there than maybe what they had planned on originally. And that’s OK,” Krawczyk said.
CBS12 News reached out to the Department of Education to find out if they are reviewing the application from the school district, but are still waiting to hear back. According to Children’s Services Council of Broward County, there are even more programs available like Parkland Cares, Professionals United for Parkland and Tomorrow’s Rainbow in Coconut Creek.