‘Who works for who?’: Ex-Oxford school board members speak on prevention policies, 3rd party review

Tom Donnelly, Korey Bailey share personal thoughts on Oxford H.S. shooting investigation

OXFORD, Mich. – A couple of ex-Oxford Community School board members gathered on Monday afternoon to speak about the prevention policies and third-party review involved with the investigation of the Oxford High School shooting.

The Oxford High School shooting took place on Nov. 30, 2021, and most recently, the shooter pleaded guilty to killing four students. He pleaded guilty to all 24 felony charges against him, and awaits sentencing.

Former Oxford school board President Tom Donnelly and treasurer Korey Bailey resigned from the school board in September of this year. Superintendent Ken Weaver announced he is currently on medical leave and will be resigning on Feb. 21, 2023, according to the Associated Press.

During the conference on Monday, Donnelly and Bailey spoke about what they believe the general public needs to know about the district’s policy on the prevention of a school shooting and what is happening with the third-party review of the faculty that handled the red flags leading up to the tragic event. During the beginning of the conference, Donnelly kept asking, “Who works for who?”

Related: Ex-Oxford school board members speak about deadly high school shooting

You can watch the presser below:

“It is assumed that trained educators collect markers [red flags on a student] that can prevent an incident before it happens,” said Donnelly regarding the screening policies that the school district should be used for students that might have concerning behavior.

Donnelly stated that the district is supposed to use a student-teacher screening tool called SAEBR when “markers” arise with a student that is alarming to faculty. The screening allows teachers to analyze social, emotional and academic behavior that will flag if a student needs extra assistance to get them on a more positive and healthy track.

Below is the state of Illinois SAEBR’s template:

We have been informed that there was a lack of training on these procedures,” Bailey said Monday.

The district has an operational guide for preventing targeted school violence. According to the two ex-board members, it is unclear why this guide and other producers are not implemented with staff and faculty. Both ex-board members expressed that the school district had the tools to recognize the markers of a concerning student and how to prevent a school shooting.

“There are records of our employees leaving the district to be trained, but there is no evidence that they came back to implement the training,” said Donnelly.

He said that this assessment was provided for the school district in 2011. When it comes to these types of policies, they are given to the superintendent, who then relays the information to school principals, and from there, the information is given to the teachers.

The school board’s only employee is the superintendent. During the presser, it was acknowledged that the teachers did their part and reported the alarming pictures that the shooter had drawn. The men also reminded the general public that, as a district, they were physically the most secure that they could have been, but Donnelly said, “We didn’t know what we didn’t know.”

Below is the operational guide for preventing targeted school violence that Bailey claimed he first learned about in August:

“The administration presented new guidelines last week moving forward -- again if we already had these in place, why is the administration presenting new guidelines?” questioned Bailey.

Bailey discusses that in 2004, policy 8400 school safety was adopted.

“It has been updated several times over the years, most recently in June 2021,” he said. “Just months... months prior to the shooting. Since the early days after the shooting, this board had been told over and over that the school had all the policies in place and that our team did everything right. But a bad thing still happened. If that were true, how could the shooting have happened?”

Board policy 8400 prohibits weapons on school property. There is a mandatory expulsion for having a dangerous weapon on school grounds. According to the policy, a report must go to the superintendent or the school’s principal. Following the report, a threat assessment team will then meet with the then-principal and discuss if the alleged student has made a threat of violence or ended in any concerning behaviors or communications that would suggest a threatening situation. The policy states that the threat assessment team includes the principal, school counselor, school psychologist, instructional personnel and SRO.

Below are the early warning signs according to the policy:

  • Expression of violence in writings and drawings
  • Uncontrolled anger
  • Inappropriate access to, possession of, and use of firearms
  • Threats of violence

Below are the imminent warning signs according to the policy:

  • Serious physical fighting with peers or family members
  • Severe destruction of property
  • Severe rage for seemingly minor reasons
  • Detailed threats of lethal violence
  • Possession and/or use of firearms and other weapons
  • Other self-injurious behaviors or threats of suicide

According to administrative guideline 8410b, if a student has presented details on harming or killing students or if they threatened someone on campus with a weapon, it is required that school authorities and law enforcement to intervene.

Below are the latest safety policies from the district:

Third-party review of events that led up to Oxford High School shooting

“All we experienced was the constant stalling of the review process,” said Donnelly about the third-party review.

Guidepost Solutions is the third party reviewing the school shooting and how the school handled the warning signs before the tragic event. In December 2021, then-Oxford schools superintendent Tim Throne recommended to the school board that they look at a third-party independent review. Donnelly discussed that Guidepost faced many obstacles during its third review, one that he notes was when the legal council allegedly convinced the teachers’ union not to participate in the review process.

Below is a statement from Dan D’Alessandro, president of the Oxford Community Schools Board of Education on Monday’s presser.

“The idea that we were going to be transparent and begin that review was a commitment that we made in mid-December, only to find that every time it came up, the can kept being kicked,” explained Donnelly. “Too many things were done against the board’s interests. Nondistrict voices were making too many decisions from the insurance company.”

The former Oxford school board president expressed that a year after the shooting, the community is frozen in time regarding the facts. He claimed that the school board has not independently reviewed the events from the start of the 2021 school year to the day of the shooting. Donnelly stated that the prosecutor’s office and security education consultant only went so far in their investigation.

“So where did our first repeated monster come from?” questioned Donnelly. “The counselors who met with the shooter could have gone down two forts. Both were legitimate. He chose suicidal ideation, and regrettably, this brought devastation to our district. How did we get to that conclusion? If a third-party independent review never took place? I still do not know the answer to that question today. And in that counseling office on the 29th and 30th. Were any of the Secret Service Homeland Security Threat Assessment protocols implemented and used? You see, if a third-party independent review would have occurred, it would have uncovered these failures already.”

Both former board members stated that the school board is made up of good people who want to do the right thing, but also said that coming forward could bankrupt the district. The two men noted that the options were to stay silent or to move along.

“I believe that as a board, I think I provided evidence that we’ve been lied to. That information was withheld from us for sometimes months,” said Donnelly.

Previous coverage -- Oxford Community Schools decline Michigan AG’s offer to launch investigation into shooting: ‘I am extremely disappointed’

Around 1 a.m. Monday, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel Twitter about the two whistleblowers and what they had to say about the investigation. You can see those tweets below.

The Oxford High School shooter admitted to premeditated murder of the following four students who were killed in the mass shooting: 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana, 16-year-old Tate Myre, 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin and 17-year-old Justin Shilling. The 16-year-old shooter pled guilty on Oct. 24 to the tragic event that took place on Nov. 30, 2021. Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald also charged the shooter’s parents with involuntary manslaughter,

On Nov. 30, 2021, a teacher found a disturbing note and drawing on the shooter’s desk. The teacher took a picture of the alarming note and drawing and passed the information to school officials. The shooter’s parents met with school officials around 10 a.m. Almost two hours later the shooter started the mayhem with a 9 mm Sig Sauer SP2022 pistol, firing shots at classmates.

Read -- Complete Oxford High School shooting coverage

About the Author:

Elizabeth Washington is a Digital News Editor and has been with Local 4 News since April 2022.