Oxford Community Schools superintendent Tim Throne clarified and defended some of the actions taken by school staff prior to the November shooting at Oxford High School that leftand seven others injured. Mutliple lawsuits have been filed against the school district, accusing personnel of not doing enough to prevent the shooting.
"Unfortunately, there have been numerous irresponsible and false allegations as well as inaccurate claims regarding Oxford Community Schools," Throne said in a letter sent on Tuesday.
Throne wrote that the school district was not aware of social media posts from Ethan Crumbley — the teenager accused of carrying out the shooting — until after the attack. Investigators have pointed to a "mountain of digital evidence" suggesting that the shooting was planned in advance, including a video from the night before the attack that mentioned killing students and another post that showed the gun that was used in the shooting.filed last year also accuse school officials of failing to notify police about the alleged shooter's social media posts.
Throne also addressed claims made in afiled against the school district last week that accused the alleged shooter of leaving a "severed bird head in a mason jar containing a yellow liquid" in one of the school's bathrooms. According to Throne, the bird incident was investigated by law enforcement before the November 30 shooting, and officials determined that there wasn't any threat to the school.
"They were unable to determine when or how the jar was delivered," Throne said. "No threat or other content accompanied the strange act."
Throne added that the district received an anonymous tip about the bird head on November 17, but that the tip claimed the person responsible was not the alleged shooter.
Throne also said there was "no record or report of live ammunition ever being reported at any school," prior to the shooting.
The superintendent adressed the actions of school staff on the day of the shooting as well, writing that the high school's administration didn't interact with the alleged shooter on November 30 prior to the attack. "The meeting with the perpetrator only included the counselor and dean of students," he wrote.
The two lawsuits filed in December, both from the family of a student who was shot, claim the school district and several school employees are responsible for the shooting because they did not expel, discipline or supervise the suspected shooter prior to the attack. The lawsuits also allege Oxford High School's principal and Throne failed to adequately train and supervise school employees.
But Throne stood by the actions taken before and on the day of the incident by school employees named in the lawsuits. In his letter, he wrote that "our students and staff should be proud."
"Our high school administration, including Principal Steve Wolf, Kristy Gibson-Marshall, and Kurt Nuss ran toward the incident to effectively save children, administer aid to injured parties, and to locate the perpetrator, putting themselves in harm's way," Throne wrote. "As an administrative team, we are extremely proud of their brave efforts that day."
He said the school district "will respond in detail to the false allegations and reckless statements" made by attorney Geoffrey Fieger in the two multimillion dollar lawsuits. Bue he added that the district has been asked by prosecutors not to "unduly comment upon the details surrounding the case in order to avoid any interference with the criminal proceedings."
The 15-year-old suspect faces 24 charges, including one count of terrorism causing death and four counts of first-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty. His parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, also face four involuntary manslaughter, to which they have pleaded not guilty.
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