New report provides safety recommendations for Oxford High after shooting
- A new report about Oxford High School school safety procedures outlines ways to improve
- A firm hired by the district said the school’s current rate of threat assessments is unsustainable
- The firm also suggests consistent safety training for volunteers, employees and others in the schools
A new report analyzing Oxford Community Schools’ threat assessment and security finds the district’s current safety protocols are strong but could be improved.
The school board hired Guidepost Solutions last year to analyze the district’s safety responses after a shooter killed four students and injured seven other people at Oxford High School in November 2021.
The firm will release a different report at a later date that analyzes what happened before, during and after the shooting itself. It will also include more details about the victims and survivors.
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The 179-page report released Monday analyzes the district’s current safety and security policies and practices. It does not directly address what those policies and practices were at the time of the shooting.
The school district provided almost 700,000 documents and the firm interviewed several employees. But cooperation was voluntary and many employees “refused to cooperate” with Guidepost, the report said.
As a whole, the firm found that current security measures at Oxford High School are “appropriate to the current risk environment” and the current security measures surpass most schools in the country.
But the firm said its recommendations go beyond what is normal to “provide an additional layer of protection and additional assurance to the students and community.”
Some Guidepost recommendations include:
Teams that conduct threat and suicide suicide interventions on individual students must ask about access to weapons in every assessment.
In threat assessments conducted by the district, three out of 20 assessments in the 2022 winter semester and 21 out of 28 assessments in fall semester 2022 had documentation showing the assessment teams asked the students being questioned about whether they had access to weapons.
Only two out of 44 suicide assessments included documentation showing the team asked about access to firearms.
Threat assessments have been a point of contention as community members have raised concerns about what school officials knew about shooter Ethan Crumbley ahead of the 2021 shooting.
On the day of the shooting, a teacher observed disturbing drawings on the student’s desk, authorities previously said. The day before, a school staffer noticed the student was searching online for ammunition.
Crumbley, his parents and school officials met the day of the shooting but Crumbley was allowed to return to class. His backpack wasn’t searched by his parents or the school officials. After the meeting that day, Crumbley opened fire.
Last November, two former Oxford school board members alleged the school district had not followed its own threat assessment policies with Crumbley. Lawyers for the district have said the allegations “show a misunderstanding of the facts,” the Detroit News reported.
Ensure every threat assessment includes a school resource officer and that school resources officers are part of suicide interventions when applicable.
“With the potential of identifying a weapon in a search, and with the importance of having a law enforcement perspective for the safety of students, it is critical that threat assessment teams are reminded – and directed – to include [School Resource Officers] in threat assessments and, as applicable, suicide interventions,” the report states.
Improve its process of determining what warrants a threat assessment
“The District is conducting too many threat assessments for conduct that clearly does not present a threat. The District currently conducts 300% more threat assessments than a similar school of its size; that is unsustainable and unnecessary.”
This firm said district counselors reported having heavy workloads from these assessments and were unable to provide guidance and academic support to students.
Guidepost recommends there be one or two people (such as a principal and school resource officer) at each school who can filter reports of concerning student behavior and then elevate concerns to the full threat assessment team.
Oxford High School should limit access to certain courtyards until a mass notification system that would alert students and staff to a potential danger is put in place.
The report outlines there are areas where it can be hard to hear the current PA system. The school is installing a mass notification system for emergency alerts and the firm recommends an audio expert test the system once the installation is complete.
Improve door locking practices
The high school uses Nightlock door barricade technology but the firm said classroom doors cannot be locked from the inside and/or show if the door is locked or unlocked for those inside the room.
Additionally, the district is using the door barricade technology as a primary way to lock doors. Guidepost recommends the technology be used as a secondary way to lock doors.
Finally, the firm said the current placement of these locking devices could make it harder for people to leave through doors in high occupancy areas, which could lead to fire safety concerns.
Ensure all volunteers and staff are trained on safety protocols
The firm recommends that all district employees along with volunteers, substitutes, coaches and part-time staff are trained on safety and emergency protocols.
The district uses ALICE Training, which focuses on training people in the school to alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate in case of a threat.
“Substitute teachers, coaches, volunteers, and part-time staff at [Oxford Community Schools] are not consistently trained in ALICE or other emergency protocols in use,” the report states. “They should be. Highly visible emergency signage should be present in all classrooms and offices to alert those present to the emergency protocols. This is to ensure that contractors, substitutes, part-time staff, and others who may not regularly be on OCS properties have the basic emergency response information.”
There will be three public meetings on Thursday to address the report. Attendees will ask questions using notecards but Guidepost said it will not answer questions about its findings in its yet-to-be-released report on the high school’s preparation and response to the 2021 mass shooting
The details for the public meetings are:
11:00 a.m - 12:30 p.m.: Oxford Township Board Room, 300 Dunlap Road, Oxford, MI 48371
3:30 - 5:00 p.m.: Oxford Middle School Commons, 1420 Lakeville Rd, Oxford, MI 48371
6:30 - 8:00 p.m.: Oxford Middle School Cafeteria, 1420 Lakeville Rd, Oxford, MI 48371
Mental health counselors will be present at each meeting.
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