Parents make emotional plea to Oxford school officials to take care of safety


Oxford – Parents of Oxford students and a survivor made emotional pleas on Thursday for improved safety measures inside Oxford High School more than four months after a mass shooting on November 30.

Two parents accused school officials of failing to create new policies and procedures to make their children feel safe and also said they were also angry that Oxford Community Schools did not hired a company to carry out a third-party review of the rampage that left four students dead and seven injured more than four months ago.

Lori Bourgeau, parent of an Oxford High School student and organizer of the Parents of Oxford group, said a lack of action by the district and school board sends the message that school officials are more interested in protecting themselves than the students.

“The school needs to do an investigation. They promised one in December and again in January and they started to change their tune. They blamed the prosecutor for not doing it,” Bourgeau said. “You can’t fix a problem if you don’t know what’s broken. By not doing an investigation, they’re not looking at what broke down the line.”

Bourgeau said members of his parents’ group sent hundreds of emails, made repeated calls and other attempts to communicate with district administrators and the school board, only to be ignored and their questions unanswered.

Oxford Community Schools did not immediately respond to a message left by The Detroit News.

Tom Donnelly, School Board Chair of Oxford Community Schools

In December, the Oakland County District declined an offer from Attorney General Dana Nessel to conduct a review of the shooting. Nessel is hosting a community forum for parents, students and family members at Oxford on Monday.

Oxford School Board Chairman Tom Donnelly said a school board sub-committee was vetting potential companies to carry out the review.

“As we have more information, an update will be given to our community at an upcoming school board meeting,” Donnelly said in an email to The News.

At the American Legion in Oxford on Thursday, Oxford High School junior Griffen Jones said he wants to see metal detectors at the high school as a sign that school officials take security seriously. Clear backpacks and checking IDs did nothing to make students feel safer, he said.

“I think Oxford has failed to keep the student body safe,” Griffen said. “They haven’t shown that they care about us as people and individuals. not the last. Every day I pray that I don’t die on the high school floor due to lack of care.

Griffen’s father, Jeff Jones, said students at Oxford High should feel safe at school and they don’t. He wants the school board to conduct an independent review of the incident and update a school safety plan and code of conduct, saying students “need hope” that next year will be different.

“The sheer daily panic there – a lot of kids don’t make it through a full day or week. They don’t eat in the cafeteria or use the bathroom,” Jones said. “The school needs to update its safety plan to make students feel safe at school.”

Parent Mike Aldred became emotional during his appeal to Oxford school officials for more safety measures and open communication with pupils and families.

“Too many Oxford students are struggling to learn due to ongoing concerns about safety procedures at Oxford schools, leading to loss of learning and unresolved mental health issues,” Aldred said.

School officials’ notices of new threats, rumors or investigations lack detail, Aldred said.

“No one knows if Oxford’s safety procedures are appropriate and what updates are needed so that day can never come for us or other schools across the country…Things have to change before the news (school) year,” Aldred said.

Parents are also calling for a public review of the district’s current student safety plan and want full community input into an updated school safety plan for the 2022-2023 school year that reassures students, helps end to learning loss and fully addresses mental health issues.

Ken Weaver, Superintendent of Oxford Community Schools

On November 30, four Oxford High School students were killed in the shooting: Hana St. Juliana, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Tate Myre, 16; and Justin Shilling, 17. Six students and a teacher were injured.

The school had about 1,650 students in classes on the day of the shooting with about 100 teachers and staff, according to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.

In March, the district announced it would create a three-year recovery plan and hire a recovery coordinator and an executive director of student services and welfare to address student mental health needs.

The new positions are intended to ensure students receive the support and care needed to recover, school officials said. The district is also adding two high school counseling positions and two home-school liaisons who will work with students to improve social and emotional behavior in elementary school.

Ken Weaver, superintendent of Oxford, said the district has received advice from five school districts who have experienced similar trauma, advice from mental health experts who specialize in trauma resolution, and feedback from the community.

Recent threats deemed not credible by police are also worrying many families, students and members of the Oxford community. Oxford Community Schools was among several school districts in northern Oakland County that received threatening phone calls on April 15 that law enforcement deemed not credible.

The district did not enter confinement, a decision disputed on social networks by some parents.

“We do not want to subject students and staff to unnecessary psychological trauma by entering lockdown when it is not warranted, therefore careful consideration has been taken when deciding whether to lock down or not” , Weaver said in a statement to families. .

Bourgeau said she didn’t know if what Oxford school officials had done was right or not, but she lacked confidence and faith in their leadership.

“Not locking up might have been the right thing. I don’t trust our board or our district and I don’t think they are equipped to make the right choices,” she said. . “I don’t believe they have enough knowledge of what we are going through to keep our children safe.”

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