Oxford schools hires NY consulting firm, approves temporary memorial for victims of shooting

The Oxford School Board made some major decisions Tuesday night when members approved the hiring of a consulting firm to review the events leading up to the mass shooting that killed four students. It also hired a law firm based out of Grand Rapids to represent it in future litigation.

It also announced plans for a temporary memorial for the victims while approving a special committee to look at a permanent memorial.

Both decisions were met with pushback from students and parents. 

"You cannot honestly say that you are considering and thinking of the 1,800 students when you fail to even ask, or listen," said one teen girl.

"If you really, truly care about our community, and you truly care about making this right, you should poll the community," said Jeremy, a parent.

The school board was twice offered a free review of the district's circumstances leading up to the mass shooting by state Attorney General Dana Nessel. But the board twice rejected those offers in favor of a third-party review conducted by New York consulting firm Guidepost Solutions. They specialize in regulatory compliance, monitoring, and security. 

Some parents questioned spending the money when the board had been offered a chance to do it for free.  

Guidepost Solutions was previously hired to assist the University of Michigan in its response to allegations of sexual assault be the doctor Robert Anderson. 

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Additionally, the district also hired a Grand Rapids-based law firm called Varnum.

The board president said he expects the final report to be made public. 

There were more than 100 people at the meeting Tuesday night. Students and parents, including some related to shooting victims during the November incident chastized the board for not moving faster on investigations into the shooting.  

After initial pushback from community members about setting up a memorial for Hana St. Juliana, Tate Myre, Madisyn Baldwin, and Justin Shilling, the board approved a temporary setting in the performing arts studio. 

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"I'm sure unless you're in dance or something, or a class where you go there, you're not going to see the temporary memorial and I feel like that's really disrespectful to Hana, Tate, Justin, and Madisyn," said Cooper Ballenger, a senior at the school. 

Additionally, the board approved a special committee to look at setting up a permanent memorial for the victims.