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Oxford residents find problems with a third-party report on the 2021 shooting at their high school

Andrew O'Connell, President of Guidepost Solutions, listens during a question and answer session about his company's report on the 2021 Oxford School shooting
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Andrew O'Connell, President of Guidepost Solutions, listens during a question and answer session about his company's report on the 2021 Oxford School shooting

Some Oxford residents find a new report on the 2021 high school shooting does not fully address where the district failed.

The report conducted by a third-party group found school district officials failed to identify the threat posed by the then-15-year-old shooter before he shot and killed four students. Six other students and a teacher were wounded.

The sweeping 572 page report identified “failure and responsibility by omission" on the part of school district administrators and other school officials.

The report’s authors met with Oxford residents Thursday.

“We fought very hard for this report for the past two years,” said Andrea Jones, the co-founder of Change for Oxford, “It’s incredibly important that this information comes out, so that policies can be adjusted and amended so that this doesn’t happen again.”

Jones said the failure of teachers to report their concerns about the shooter were not adequately cited in the report.

Andrew O’Connell is the president of Guidepost Solutions, the company hired by the Oxford School District Board of Education. He acknowledged the issue with mandatory reporting. Though O’Connell added there are different standards for mandatory reporting depending on whether a student is believed at risk for suicide versus whether they are a risk of committing a violent act.

“The teachers appropriately reported the conduct,” said O’Connell, “Once that was reported, under the threat assessment-suicide prevention protocols, certain steps should have been taken.”

O’Connell acknowledged some limitations on the investigation. While hired by the Board of Education to conduct the investigation, O’Connell says the board did not agree to his company’s request to make cooperating with the investigation required for employment with the school district. As a result, many school district employees O’Connell said his team wanted to interview refused.

Many in the audience at the Oxford Township Hall insist it's important to continue to raise questions not answered by the report.

But Oxford resident Cara Erskine says she had another reason to attend one of the three public meetings on the report Thursday.

“To show the families that they are not alone,” said Erskine before the 1 p.m. public meeting. “Especially after the way the district…mishandled and did not show up with empathy and compassion.”

The Oxford school district did not respond to a request for comment.

17-year-old Ethan Crumbley is scheduled to be sentenced next month. He faces a potential life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.