Local schools respond in wake of Oxford incident



Local schools had to deal with the broader impact of the Tuesday, Nov. 30 shooting at Oxford High School in Oakland County. Genesee County Schools, including Montrose schools, were closed Friday, Dec. 3, in response to a social media threat. Other local schools have heightened security protocols.

On Tuesday, Nov. 30, Montrose Community Schools Superintendent Linden Moore posted a letter informing Montrose families about the school shooting at Oxford High School that claimed the lives of four high school students and injured several others.

Moore said, “Please keep the families and community of Oxford in your thoughts and prayers as they grieve and deal with this very difficult situation. Our staff and students train and run drills for our A.L.I.C.E. program, which is our internal response protocol to an active shooter.”

A.L.I.C.E. stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter & Evacuate. That afternoon, the Montrose school district ran a safety drill with its students.

“Even though Montrose Community Schools continue to practice and make every effort to keep our students as safe as possible, it takes an entire community effort to ensure that everyone stays safe within our schools. Please take this opportunity to speak with your children about the value of human life, and the importance of treating each other with kindness and respect. We come from different places and have different daily challenges. We must have conversations with our children about how to care for each other and help identify if someone is struggling or reaching out for help. When this happens, we need to let someone know. Our skilled and devoted administrators, teachers, counselors and social workers at every building can help. There is no problem that is too large or too late for them to get involved. If you notice something different in your child or another child, or if they hear a friend who is struggling, please reach out to us. We need an entire community, always alert and on the lookout for the safety and well-being of our students. As our law enforcement says, ‘If you see something, say something.’ Please pray for the Oxford community today, hug your child and remind them to look for warning signs that maybe someone is reaching out for help.”

The following day, Wednesday, Dec. 1, a threat to the Hill-McCloy High School parking lot was posted on Snapchat social media app, and law enforcement got involved.

Moore said, “School administration worked with local and state law enforcement agencies and have not been able to give any credibility to the post on Snapchat. I am grateful for the students that came forward with information and worked with law enforcement to help in the investigation. I am frustrated that someone chose to post such an awful and hurtful thing on social media that was only meant to cause fear and panic in our community. To that end, we have made the very difficult decision to close school (on Friday, Dec. 3). We have listened to concerns from students, staff, and families. Anxiety is high and there is a need for a collective pause for families to help their children make sense of the world around them.”

During the St. Charles Community Schools Wednesday, Dec. 1 board of education meeting, Superintendent Michael Decker said, “We’re at a heightened security status. We’ve tightened security.”

School board student representative Trinity Burch informed the St. Charles school board members that the student council is hosting a Straight Talk assembly for high school students to help students deal with depression and the concerns over what happened in Oxford.

On Thursday, Dec. 2, Saginaw Intermediate School District Superintendent Jeffrey Collier issued a letter to Saginaw County parents, in cooperation with Saginaw County Undersheriff Miguel Gomez, Prosecutor John McColgan, and Saginaw County superintendents, including Chesaning Union Schools Superintendent Mike McGough and St. Charles Community Schools Superintendent Decker, among others.

The letter said, “Our thoughts and prayers remain with all of the victims, their families and everyone impacted by Tuesday afternoon’s horrendous event in Oxford, Michigan. No community should ever have to endure such a tragedy. This traumatic event has generated numerous rumors via social media which have created an element of disruption in schools across the State of Michigan. Saginaw County schools and law enforcement take threats seriously and investigate them thoroughly in accordance with our Critical Incident Management Plan. Saginaw County schools will continue to remain open to serve students.”

Students, families, or other individuals who have information about any potentially harmful event are advised to contact local law enforcement and school officials immediately; call 911 or report anonymously via OK2SAY by phone (855) 565-2729; text to 652729; or email OK2SAY@mi.gov.

The letter also stated, “Saginaw County superintendents, local law enforcement and the Saginaw County prosecutor are asking parents to please take the time and talk with your child/children about the incident that occurred in Oxford and the consequences of these subsequent posts. Please help us emphasize with your child/children the disruptions to the school environment and the extraordinary strain that is being placed on local law enforcement that is trying to investigate each of them. The consequences of any false threats should also be explained. Making threats of violence against a school is a crime, even if the threat is false or a ‘joke’ and sharing or posting unknown threats is extremely traumatizing. Under Michigan Law, anyone who commits a False Report or Threat of Terrorism is subject to penalties that include a 20-year prison sentence and/ or $20,000; as well as reimbursement for expenses incurred from the violation. Also, using a computer to commit a crime in certain instances also contains a 20-year maximum penalty. Please speak to your children and assure them law enforcement will investigate every threat and take necessary action to protect our communities.”

SISD Superintendent Collins said, “The safety of your children remains our highest priority and focus. Please rest assured that all steps are being taken to provide your child with a safe and secure learning environment.”

On Friday, Dec. 3, New Lothrop Area Public Schools held a Passes Edge Safety Training assembly for students.