Oxford school officials could have legally stopped alleged shooter, experts say

Posted at 9:56 PM, Dec 15, 2021

OXFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WXYZ) — Parents at Tuesday night’s Oxford Community Schools board meeting are demanding answers about what happened before the school shooting and what will happen after.

Superintendent Tim Throne had said the high school would reopen after the holiday break. He now says it is delayed again and is getting criticism.

“It's important that we get our kids back in our building as soon as possible. That is our goal. And we'll just give you some updates along the way,” Throne said Tuesday night.

School and legal experts at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School told 7 Action News that Oxford needs a better plan and better communication.

When the high school is back open, law professor Michael McDaniel says, “any part of the school that was involved in this shooting has to be walled off, has to be blocked off. The kids don't need to see that area of the school.”

McDaniel also says TV cameras need to be kept away.

“It is not necessarily a good thing for the kids to be sort of seeing all these these TV cameras as they're walking back into school,” McDaniel said.

He also says the big memorial that has developed at the high school sign and entryway won’t be the only one. McDaniel says expect more and to let it happen.

“They’re going to create their own spontaneous memorials at an area that means the most to them. And the worst thing that the school administration can do is to say to the kids that here, we've got it, we've designated the spot over here. You've got to let the kids designate — this is a form of grieving and a form of letting go for the students,” McDaniel said.

We know that 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley gave warning signs including a disturbing drawing depicting a shooting with strong wording, was sent to the school office and his parents were called and refused to take him out of school. He was returned to class and is accused of doing the shooting in the early afternoon.

“The child was having some issues — that is reasonable to search that child's backpack, to search their locker, and federal law says you have that right,” Cooley Law professor Renelia DuBose told 7 Action News.

The Cooley experts also say Oxford should have called in their school resource officer, a deputy sheriff in the building, and taken the suspected shooter to juvenile detention.

“To Oakland Village really quickly and let the process happen," McDaniel said. "That failure to engage in this process, which is set up to protect this child who became the shooter. They failed that kid as well as all the other kids, frankly, when they failed to remove him from the school.”

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald has said she’s considering criminal charges against Oxford Community Schools officials.

Civil lawsuits will also focus on that.