OXFORD, MI (WXYZ) — Two former Oxford school board members held a press conference Monday alleging the district had a threat assessment policy in place that was not implemented ahead of the deadly November 30, 2021, shooting at the high school that left four students dead and seven others, including a teacher, injured.
WATCH THE PRESS CONFERENCE BELOW:
Tom Donnelly, the former Oxford school board president, and Korey Bailey, the board's former treasurer, say the 8400 policy had been in the district’s system for years. It reportedly outlines how to train teams to look for early warning signs, like expressions of violence in writings and drawings, threats of violence, testing poorly on an emotional assessment and more, creating a marker system for students who are most at risk.
BREAKING: “It is an operational guide for preventing school violence. This playbook is designed similar to handling fire emergencies. It defines need for frequent training. Involving law enforcement as described by Secret Service. Oxford had this since 2004.” @wxyzdetroit pic.twitter.com/iK6uDUrNlz— Simon Shaykhet WXYZ (@simonshaykhet) November 28, 2022
Donnelly says the suspected shooter should have taken an emotional assessment in 2020 and 2021 called SAEBRS.
“Did we look at them? Did we add the students with concerning scores in a marker system? Is there a marker system that the counselor could see?” said Donnelly.
“The district certainly didn’t use it as designed in the months leading up to the shooting,” he said. “There’s no evidence that we’ve ever used it.”
Donnelly and Bailey are speaking out now, hoping that other districts can learn a lesson from what happened at Oxford and commit to training on how to prevent targeted school violence the same way they train for fire drills.
“Since the early days after the shooting, this board had been told over and over that the school had all the policies in place and that our team did everything right but a bad thing still happened; if that were true, how could the shooting have happened,” said Bailey.
Bailey said they learned that those responsible for safety had raised concerns over the lack of training for some time, but that they were ignored.
Bailey also explained how models and policies are handed up to the superintendent’s team, which is then responsible for implementation.
Donnelly said he and Bailey will likely be deposed in the coming days and more details will be shared.
The two former members said they resigned months ago because they felt silenced and misled while on the board. They also allege that “non-district voices” kept information from the board.
BREAKING: “All we experienced was constant stalling. Were the processes followed? Too many things were done against the board’s interests. Non-district voices were making too many decisions from the insurance company.” @wxyzdetroit pic.twitter.com/RNAo9n3f9C— Simon Shaykhet WXYZ (@simonshaykhet) November 28, 2022
The press conference just comes a few days before the one-year anniversary of the Oxford tragedy.
On Tuesday, the Oxford Community Schools Board of Education President Dan D'Alessandro released this statement:
"At Oxford Community Schools the safety of our students and staff has remained our number one priority. The third-party review of the events leading up to, during and following November 30, 2021, as reported at our last board meeting, has since seen increased participation of key stakeholders. The review will help us all understand the facts and have the transparency and accountability we all deserve. We ask the public to allow this important review process to take place so the facts can be brought to light in a clear, accurate, and impartial manner.
This Wednesday, November 30, 2022, is Wildcat Remembrance Day, a time when our community will come together to remember Hana, Tate, Justin, and Madisyn, whose young lives were cut short one year ago and to grace our love upon their families and our survivors.
We encourage everyone in our community and beyond to let LOVE win this week and always. We have compiled a list on our website that is being continuously updated with activities and resources available to you, so you may spend Wildcat Remembrance Day in a way that works best for you and your loved ones – to heal, reflect, mourn, and most of all, to love. #OxfordStrong."
The law firm of Giarmarco, Mullins & Horton, P.C. released this statement:
"We are aware of the allegations made by former Oxford Community School Board members during today’s press conference. Mr. Donnelly is correct in acknowledging that the District had appropriate safety policies in place since 2004. He also confirmed that multiple staff members received threat assessment training before the November 30 tragedy. Many of the former Board members’ allegations show a misunderstanding of the facts. The details regarding the training and use of threat assessment procedures in advance of the November 30 tragedy will be discussed at length by members of the staff who implemented the policies prior to November 30, 2021. As in previous depositions, the District will fully disclose all relevant facts and procedures in the forthcoming legal proceedings."