The parents of two victims of the Nov. 30, 2021, shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan are demanding more transparency from the school district after the board voted against moving forward with an independent investigation into the tragedy last fall.
The Oxford Board of Education on Tuesday announced that the district has, for the second time, declined an offer from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel to conduct a third-party investigation into the school shooting with the goal of determining how shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley, 15, managed to kill four students and injure seven others last fall.
"To me, this is an admission of guilt," Buck Myre, father of deceased 16-year-old Tate Myre, said during a Thursday press conference. "They know that things didn't go right that day, and they don't want to stand up and fix it. They're going to hide behind governmental immunity and they're going to hide behind insurance and the lawyers. What's this teach the kids? They're in high school. … This is horrible leadership."
"We just want accountability," he added later when asked why an independent investigation is important to parents.
Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald revealed in December 2021 that school officials met with Crumbley and his parents to discuss violent drawings he created just hours before the deadly rampage. The 15-year-old suspect was able to convince them during the meeting that the concerning drawings were for a "video game." His parents "flatly refused" to take their son home.
The shooting has also resulted in several lawsuits, including two that seek $100 million in damages each, against the school district and school employees on behalf of the family of two sisters who attend the school.
Myre and Meghan Gregory, the mother of 15-year-old Keegan Gregory, who survived the shooting but witnessed and was traumatized by Crumbley's rampage, are suing the shooting suspect's parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, as well as school staff for negligence.
"They're the ones that know what happened that day. They're the ones that know what the breakdown would have been, where the breakdown happened, and that's what we're looking for," Gregory said Thursday. "I guess I'm more confused as to why the excuses? Is it because you are hiding behind something? Because that's what it feels like to all of us out here saying let's find out what happened that day so we can fix it."
School board president Tom Donnelly did not immediately respond to an inquiry from Fox Breaking News Updates | Latest News Headlines | Photos & News Videos Digital.
Attorney Ven Johnson, president of Ven Johnson Law, called the board's decision a "horrible and sad, tragic development in this ongoing tragedy that has befallen" his clients and other Oxford High School families.
"The victims have been victimized again," he said.
The school board released an update on Tuesday after their meeting saying that while they are committed to an independent investigation and have narrowed potential third-party investigators down to three entities, the entire process may take between three and five years because the district does not want to interfere with ongoing civil and criminal litigation
Parents said the school board did not reach out to families saying they were not moving forward with an independent investigation.
Nessel said she is "deeply saddened" by the board's "repeated rejection" of her offers for an independent investigation into the events leading up to the Nov. 30, 2021, shooting.
"My goal is not to assign blame but to help identify ways to improve school safety for Oxford and all schools in Michigan," she said in a Wednesday statement. "The school board’s unwillingness to partner with my department on this effort flies in the face of transparency. The rejection sends a message that the board is more focused on limiting liability than responding to the loud outcry from the Oxford community to deliver greater peace of mind to the students, parents and educators that lived through this traumatic event."
The attorney general added that her department "can only perform an exhaustive and thorough review when we have the full cooperation of the school board and district."
"Absent that partnership, I am restricted to the publicly available information we have all read and reviewed. Despite this outcome, I will return to Oxford in the coming weeks and continue my work to be a resource to the community," she said. "This latest setback does not deter my efforts to share best practices across our state in order to help all schools improve the safety and security of their learning environments."