Oxford Schools Whistleblowers: District Failed to Implement Threat Assessment Policy
Two ex-school board members claim the district didn’t use its own threat assessment guidelines in the months leading up to last year’s Oxford High School shooting.
OXFORD, Mich. — Two former school board members claim Oxford Community Schools did not implement its threat assessment policy which they say could have prevented last year’s mass shooting.
During a news conference Monday, just two days shy of one year since the shooting, the whistleblowers said the district’s claim that it did everything it could have to try and stop the shooting is not true, ABC reports.
“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,” said former school board treasurer Korey Bailey.
Bailey also said a report completed by Secure Education Consultants “praised our team” for developing and executing comprehensive security protocols. However, he adds, the report “was not based on a complete investigation — it only focused on if we had the policies. It never touched on if we ever implemented or trained people to carry out these policies.”
Former school board president Tom Donnelly said Bailey began looking over the district’s threat assessment policies and guidelines in August and discovered a reference to a Homeland Security protocol referred to as 8400. Donnelly said it was that document that “changed everything from my perspective.”
The protocol is to address a threat preemptively by ensuring counselors, resource officers, and other staff members collect “markers” such as changes in grades or students showing violent tendencies. The document “clearly states that the threshold for pulling a team together [to investigate] should be low,” Donnelly said. “It’s the team’s job to decide whether you have a low or a medium or a high-risk factor.”
“The district certainly didn’t use [the playbook] as designed in the months leading up to the shooting,” Donnelly alleged. “There’s no evidence that we’ve ever used it as designed — even though, since 2011, the policies and guidelines have been in our system.”
Bailey claimed no schools in the district have put the protocol into practice and that people responsible for safety have voiced concerns over the lack of training. He said those concerns were ignored. Donnelly said district counsel disagreed with his and Bailey’s assessment and that he “couldn’t in good conscience stay on the board.” The pair resigned in September.
“Our options became clear that we could either … go along and stay silent, or we could move along and be a voice for change,” Bailey said. “Remaining silent was not being honest or transparent.”
A day before the shooting, a teacher saw the 15-year-old shooter researching ammunition on his phone. Prosecutors say the school then contacted the student’s parents but they didn’t respond. His mother later said to him in a text message: “Lol. I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.” Under the school’s policy, Bailey and Donnelly said the student should have been sent home.
The following day, a teacher discovered a drawing with a gun and the words, “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.” There was also an image of a bullet with the words, “Blood everywhere.” The boy’s parents were called into the school to discuss the disturbing drawing but declined to take him home. He was not removed from the school and his parents were told to get him counseling within 48 hours.
The gunman opened fire soon after his parents left the school. Killed in the rampage were 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin, 16-year-old Tate Myre, 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana, and 17-year-old Justin Shilling. Six others were injured. The shooter pleaded guilty to all counts last month and faces up to life in prison with no possibility of parole.
“I pray that every parent in Michigan is watching this today and will go back to their school boards and demand that their schools dust off policy 8400,” Bailey urged.
If you appreciated this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!
Leading in Turbulent Times: Effective Campus Public Safety Leadership for the 21st Century
This new webcast will discuss how campus public safety leaders can effectively incorporate Clery Act, Title IX, customer service, “helicopter” parents, emergency notification, town-gown relationships, brand management, Greek Life, student recruitment, faculty, and more into their roles and develop the necessary skills to successfully lead their departments. Register today to attend this free webcast!