Orlando gunman had turbulent school career

Hunter Walker
·White House Correspondent

STUART, Fla. — Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen had extensive disciplinary problems in his youth. Academic records released by the Martin County School District on Thursday show that Mateen was suspended for a total of 48 days while in middle school and high school. The files also indicate that Mateen was involved in multiple violent incidents and that he switched schools after being recommended for alternative placement multiple times.

Mateen graduated from Stuart Adult Community High School in 2003. His disciplinary records show he was suspended on 15 separate occasions from 1999 through 2002. Thirteen of Mateen’s suspensions were the result of unspecified rule violations, and two were marked with the code “fighting with injury” — indicating an act of violence was involved.

His transcripts suggest the repeated suspensions did not improve his behavior: They note that the punishment led to “no decrease in disciplinary action.” The files further describe Mateen as “academically unsuccessful” and as having “attendance/tardiness” problems. The transcripts also say switching schools into alternative programs led to “documented improved academic performance” from Mateen.

At Stuart Middle School, which Mateen attended in 1999 and 2000, he was suspended nine times. None of these incidents was identified in his records as involving fighting.

Mateen moved on to Martin County High School in the fall of 2000. At that high school, Mateen was suspended four times during the 2000-2001 academic year, including two violent incidents in May 2001. He was then recommended for alternative placement and sent to Spectrum Junior/Senior High.

According to its website, Spectrum offers “research based academic and behavioral interventions” to “meet the unique educational, social, and emotional needs of our diverse student population in a safe and nurturing environment.” Mateen began attending Spectrum just before the end of the 2000-2001 academic year, and he was suspended for an unspecified rule violation days after arriving in May 2001. It was his third suspension overall that month.

Mateen’s final suspension listed in his records was for an unspecified violation on Sept. 13, 2001, two days after the 9/11 attacks. Multiple students who attended school with Mateen have said he celebrated the attacks at school and was suspended soon after.

Mateen was ultimately granted a diploma from Stuart Adult Community High School. According to its website, Stuart Adult Community High School offers “an alternative to the large traditional high school” that is ideal for “students who feel uncomfortable in large high school settings” or those who need “a more flexible schedule.” Jamie Penn Adcock, a spokeswoman for the Martin County School District, described the school as a place for students who are “there not necessarily for extracurriculars and the traditional high school experience.”

“They’re just there to get the diploma,” Adcock said.

The Miami Herald reported that the former dean of students at Martin County High School, Marty Bielicki, said that the shooter “had issues.” Bielicki, who retired from the Martin County School board in 2014, detailed his experiences with Mateen in a Facebook note.

“He had issues. All the records were discarded by the school system, per statute. Clearly, if his employer had access to his juvenile record, he would be the last person to own a weapon,” Bielicki reportedly wrote of Mateen’s time at Martin County High School.

Bielicki did not respond to a request for comment from Yahoo News.

Early Sunday morning, Mateen entered the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., where he killed 49 people and injured more than 50 others in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Authorities are investigating the attack.
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This article was originally published on June 15, 2016. It was subsequently updated when further records were released.