Nearly two years after a Michigan high school shooting that killed four students and injured seven others, a consultant's independent investigation faults top administrators and other school officials for “failure and responsibility by omission.”
ProPublica reports that the 572-page report from Guidepost Solutions says that had threat assessment and suicide intervention been carried out appropriately at Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan, the November 2021 shooting could have been prevented.
"In certain critical areas, individuals at every level of the district, from the Board to the Superintendent and his cabinet to the [Oxford High] administration and staff, failed to provide a safe and secure environment," the report says. "The district was responsible for keeping...students safe and secure on Nov. 30, 2021, but failed to do so."
Ethan Crumbley was a 15-year-old sophomore at Oxford High in November 2021 when he brought a gun to school and began shooting. Ten students and a teacher were hit by gunfire, and four students died. Ethan Crumbley pleaded guilty to murder charges; his parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, ae awaiting trial on manslaughter charges in connection with their son's attack. Prosecutors allege the parents enabled their son's attack by buying him a gun and ignoring his mental health problems.
The investigation also found missed opportunities in the aftermath of the shooting. The report describes efforts by the lawyers for the Oxford district and the teachers union to discourage people from cooperating in the investigation.
Some school leaders encouraged staff to participate in interviews with the consultant, the report said, but the school board made it voluntary, rather than a condition of employment. This “hindered our ability to conduct the investigation effectively,” the report said.
Of the 161 people Guidepost investigators asked to interview, 70 refused or did not respond, including most of the shooter’s former teachers and several critical witnesses to the shooting.
"Individuals at Oxford High School failed to recognize on November 30, 2021, that the shooter’s conduct, statements, and drawings suggested that he might cause physical harm at the school," the report says. "As a result, these individuals did not escalate the shooter’s conduct to the [high school] principal, as required by district policy, and therefore the school did not perform a threat assessment of the shooter."
Anticipating the Guidepost Solutions report, Oxford’s superintendent and the board president informed families this month that the district would increase mental health support on campuses following its release and noted that the publicly funded All for Oxford Resiliency Center, established for those affected by the shooting, would expand its hours.