The community has every right to be upset


OXFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WXYZ) — Officials at Oxford Community Schools are trying to turn the page to regain trust.

The school board chairman speaks exclusively with 7 Action News for the first time since the shooting of November 30, 2021 which killed four students and injured seven others, including a teacher.

The district is also announcing several new back-to-school safety measures this fall. Including:

  • New electronic tracking of schools and students
  • Armed guards in the eight school buildings
  • A gun-sniffing dog in high school
  • A third-party security investigation that is currently underway

It will cost $9 million with state assistance and federal money.

“I know you’re angry, I know you’re upset in some ways – in some ways I think you absolutely need answers,” said Oxford Community Schools board chairman Tom Donnelly.

The school board came under intense pressure to provide these answers. One of the most outspoken was Buck Myre, father of Tate Myre, who was one of the students killed in the shooting.

“What would it do for children if the school stood up and took ownership of their role?” male said 7 Action News in May.

The chairman of the council revealed that after the shooting, the council was closed in a room of managers, lawyers and public relations advisers, while being too numb to act alone.

“From the start, the voices in the room – and I’m not going to say it’s a singular voice – (they) said that we should avoid conversations about that day or anything around it because that we’re not supposed to bother the prosecution,” Donnelly said.

Oxford School Board chairman speaks publicly for first time since shooting

That was when the alleged shooter and his parents were in court and heading for jury trials.

But this spring, Oakland County District Attorney Karen McDonald made it clear Oxford officials were free to act and even conduct an independent, third-party investigation.

The Chairman of the Board says that it was not said directly. Eventually, those conversations happened.

Publicly, the council continued to stall. 7 Action News spoke to parents who were still skeptical today.

Donnelly confirmed that council had an understanding of how events unfolded on the day of the shooting.

“Yes, we walked through the building as a council. We had discussions about timing,” he said.

Evidence in the criminal cases includes that there were warning signs with Ethan Crumbley, the accused shooter, before it happened.

On the day of the shooting, he was sent to the school counselor’s office and met with his parents who refused to take him home. They were too busy to do that, they would have said.

Ethan was kicked out of class and the shooting happened hours later.

The counselor testified in the criminal case that he believed Ethan was suicidal.

“Was it avoidable in your mind? 7 Action News reporter Jim Kiertzner asked.

“I can’t speak my mind because I speak as chairman of the board with other board members. And there are some things I want to say, and I don’t know if I have permission to say from the prosecutor,” Donnelly said.

“I can see after something is over. I can see what could have, should have and should have. Right now we have to make those calls,” he continued. “(The day when) I don’t sweat. He doesn’t do anything that the advisors monitor. He doesn’t stumble. He’s not moving. He doesn’t want his backpack.

There is a court battle over the release of school surveillance video which sources say shows everything in the shooting. And the prosecutor doesn’t want to get away with it, even in civil lawsuits.

These parents can come in and see it. Donnelly says he hasn’t seen the video.

“No, I won’t. They tell me it’s horrible. I went through the visit with officers and that’s all I need,” he said.

The shooting at a school in Uvalde, Texas, took place last month and more information has emerged about what happened inside that school than in Oxford in November.

Does it change now with that?

“Maybe I’d be interested. I’d like to talk to the board members. I mean, one of the things with this particular interview is I had to tell them I’m doing this without getting their permission and and I don’t want to go too far without their consent as counsel,” Donnelly said.

There is much more healing to come in this community as the third party investigation continues.




Cnn

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