Oxford schools superintendent Tim Throne discusses shooting: ‘Our hearts are broken, but our spirit is not’

Still unclear when high school will reopen, goal is end of January

The worst thing that can happen in any school district happened in his. Tim Throne, the superintendent of Oxford Community Schools, sat down with Local 4′s Devin Scillian and discussed the shooting at Oxford High School.

OXFORD, Mich. – The worst thing that can happen in any school district happened in his. Tim Throne, the superintendent of Oxford Community Schools, sat down with Local 4′s Devin Scillian and discussed the shooting at Oxford High School.

It has been just over three weeks since police say 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley opened fire at Oxford High School killing four students and injuring six others and a teacher. That was Nov. 30.

Two days after the shooting, Throne appeared in a video message talking about healing and moving forward. He also said no discipline was warranted for the suspect prior to the shooting.

Since then, teenagers -- Madisyn Baldwin, Tate Myre, Hana St Juliana and Justin Shilling -- have been laid to rest. Throne has been named in a lawsuit claiming he and others could have prevented their deaths.

“The grieving process with our families, the trauma that we’ve been put through,” Throne said.

Throne often has to stop during the conversation to come up with the right words.

“Our hearts are broken, but our spirit is not,” Throne said.

Oxford spirit is in strong supply as the town tries its best to welcome Christmas. But it’s been tough for many and there is no handbook for the conversations Throne has had to have.

“Probably a couple of the hardest conversations I’ve ever had to have with anybody. Yeah, for four of our families, their students are never coming home,” Throne said.

“You’ve also, of course, had to deal with a fair amount of anger from people too. And now you’ve heard that in public meetings and all -- I’m certain you sympathize with that anger and you understand the hurt. But it also isn’t easy to be the target of that, is it?” Devin Scillian said.

“It’s not. Just because I can understand it doesn’t mean that it makes it easy,” Throne said.

“There’s so many things that you have to juggle right now because it would seem to be that one of the healthiest things would be especially for the kids, for this to be back together, to be able to lean on each other. And they can’t for a variety of reasons -- not the least of which is COVID right now,” Devin Scillian said. “How do you look at trying to get everybody to a place where they can again connect in this human way that right now is so necessary?”

“I would say not just the physical safety, but the emotional safety. Both are paramount in order to get us back,” Throne said.

“Do you have an outlook for when you think that you can make that happen. Have you set a goal yet for when you want people back in place?” Devin Scillian said.

“I would say that it changes almost hourly. I’m hopeful that we will be able to have our high school students back before the end of January. That’s where we’re at now,” Throne said.

Getting the high school students back will require a lot of repair work for both the physical structure and the emotional one. Throne has already been informed by some teachers that they won’t be returning. With an ongoing investigation and the lawsuit that names him specifically among the defendants, Throne prefers not to talk specifically about the course of events on the day of the shooting.

“There are 100% baseless accusations. Things said in that lawsuit that -- I’m not sure I have a good word -- Maybe reckless. Reckless in the sense that it has really traumatized our people,” Throne said.

Throne said he isn’t comfortable talking about the interactions the school had with the parents of the suspected shooter, who are also facing charges. He seems aligned with the prosecutor’s approach so far.

“I think that the people who are in jail today,” Throne said.

“Think they belong there?” Devin Scillian said.

“We want justice. We want accountability. I think that’s what I’ll say,” Throne said.

Throne was set to retire next month, but has announced that he would delay those plans and stay longer. He said that now isn’t the right time for him to leave his position as superintendent.

Read: Complete Oxford High School shooting coverage

About the Authors:

Devin Scillian is equally at home on your television, on your bookshelf, and on your stereo. Devin anchors the evening newscasts for Local 4. Additionally, he moderates Flashpoint, Local 4's Sunday morning news program. He is also a best-selling author of children's books, and an award-winning musician and songwriter.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.