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Profiles March-April 2023

April 13, 2023

Judge says Oxford (Mich.) district and its employees cannot be sued over 2021 school shooting

A judge in Michigan has ruled that the Oxford school district and its employees cannot be sued in connection with the Oxford High School mass shooting that took place in November 2021.

The Detroit Free Press reports that Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Mary Ellen Brennan stated that the district employees have government immunity from any lawsuits that argue Oxford Schools acted negligently in connection with the shooting attack that killed four students and wounded seven others.

"While Plaintiffs allege claims against Defendant Oxford Community Schools for gross negligence and vicarious liability, such claims do not fall within any of the six recognized exceptions," according to the court order.

Shooting victims have filed lawsuits in connection with the Nov. 30, 2021, shooting at Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich. The shooter, Ethan Crumbley, a 15-year-old sophomore at the time, has pleaded to multiple counts of murder and other charges. He has not yet been sentenced.

Based on the state law, Brennan wrote "the Court concludes that Ethan Crumbley’s act of firing the gun, rather than the alleged conduct of the individual defendants, was ‘the one most immediate, efficient and direct cause of injury or damage.’”

Survivors of the shooting had contended in the lawsuits that the district and its employees, including high school counselors, acted recklessly by ignoring clear warning signs exhibited by Crumbley.

Superintendent in Texas resigns after leaving a gun in elementary school bathroom

The superintendent of the Rising Star (Texas) district has resigned days after parents learned that he left his gun unattended in an elementary school bathroom.

KTAB/KRBC reports that Superintendent Robby Stuteville submitted his resignation in February from the 190-student district.

His departure came days after Stuteville admitted that in January, a third-grade student found his gun in the bathroom at Rising Star Elementary School. The student notified a teacher immediately without moving or touching the weapon.

Stuteville said that both he and the school principal openly carry a firearm on campus.

The superintendent said that when he was using the restroom, he took the gun off and placed it in a stall. About 15 minutes later, it was found by the student.

The student returned to the classroom and notified the teacher, who sent a second student into the bathroom to confirm it was a real gun.

“There was never a danger other than the obvious,” Stuteville asserted.

Rising Star Police Chief Don Braly said authorities began investigating the incident after his office was notified in February.

Rising Star is about 50 miles southeast of Abilene.

Court ruling stops UC Berkeley from moving forward with student housing construction

A California appellate court has issued a ruling that stops University of California, Berkeley, from building badly needed student housing at People’s Park.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the university intends to appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.

The appellate court said University of California regents does not have to abandon the People’s Park project but must return to the trial court and “fix the errors” in the environmental review.

Two nonprofits had filed a lawsuit to stop the development, saying it would rob neighbors of green space, damage the park’s historic value and bring more noise and other disruptions to the area.

UC Berkeley unveiled a plan in 2018 to redesign the park to provide about 1,100 student beds, along with 125 beds for lower-income and formerly unhoused people. The Berkeley campus houses only 23% of its students, by far the lowest percentage in the 10-campus UC system. 

But the ruling by the 1st District Court of Appeal ruled that UC Berkeley “failed to assess potential noise impacts from loud student parties in residential neighborhoods near the campus, a longstanding problem that the [environmental review] improperly dismissed as speculative."

UC Berkeley denounced the ruling.

“The campus is dismayed by this unprecedented and dangerous decision to dramatically expand CEQA, and the campus will ask the California Supreme Court to overturn it,” the university said.

“Left in place, this decision will indefinitely delay all of UC Berkeley’s planned student housing, which is desperately needed by our students and fully supported by the City of Berkeley’s mayor and other elected representatives."

Harvey Smith, president of the People’s Park Historic District Advocacy Group, praised the court decision. He said his members are advocates from throughout Berkeley and beyond who want to maintain open space in the dense city and preserve a vital historic and cultural site listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy has been writing about education for American School & University since 1999. He also has reported on schools and other topics for The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Times and City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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