Nessel: Oxford rejected offer of independent review

·5 min read

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said late Monday that Oxford school officials have declined her offer to lead an independent review of facts leading up to the Nov. 30 shooting that left four students dead.

She is not happy with the decision.

"We had heard that the Oxford School District had indicated that they wanted a third party to review the policies and protocols that were in place and, really, the events leading up to the acts of November 30 and what happened during the course of the events. So I offered my department," Nessel told CNN host Don Lemon.

"I thought, 'What better agency to conduct a special review than the Michigan Department of Attorney General?' We learned, just a short while ago, that the school district has turned down our offer and it said they're going to go with a private security firm instead to conduct an internal review."

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On Sunday, Nessel, the top law enforcement officer in the state, offered to use her team to investigate the shooting that killed four students and injured seven people.

"I'm disappointed, quite honestly," Nessel said on CNN.

She said she hopes the "school district cares as much about the safety of their students as they do shielding themselves from civil liability."

Lawyers who work for the attorney general will continue assisting the Oakland County Sheriffs Department and the Oakland County Prosecutor "in any way we can," Nessel said.

"We're going to talk to the community," she said. "We're going to talk to the parents and the students in Oxford and see what it is that they want to see happen. I'm sure they're going to make their feelings known about the rejection of our offer."

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At issue is what the school knew prior to the shooting and whether school officials took reasonable action to prevent the violence.

In addition, Nessel revealed new information about school threats and teacher safety. A teacher, among the Oxford shooting victims, survived.

"I've been made aware of the fact that teachers all over the state have been getting death threats today as a result of people being upset about what they perceive to be the actions or non-actions that occurred in Oxford on November 30," Nessel told CNN.

"... Our educators protect us, protect our kids in school every day. But were there mistakes that were made in Oxford during the course of this event? I think that's part of what the investigation will discover," she said.

Nessel continued, "Again, they are looking for criminal liability. The offer that we made would have extended to the protocols and policies not just so that we can make sure the kids in Oxford are safe from danger, but so that we can ensure those policies are put into place all over the state of Michigan, so that each and every school district can be better protected."

Families in the Oxford community will be heard, Nessel said.

"But, again, if the school district is really looking for transparency and they're really looking to ensure that everything that they did, and everything they continue to do, results in the most security for their students, which is something that people are greatly concerned about right now, then I would hope they would want to cooperate with the investigation by the state."

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Nessel's office tweeted a public statement at 11:30 p.m. that said:

"I am extremely disappointed that the school district chose to decline my offer to devote the full resources of the Department of Attorney General to review the events leading up to and on November 30th. This tragedy demands a united effort from all of us who serve the Oxford community. Despite this outcome, my department will continue to support the ongoing criminal investigation in Oakland County and looks forward to meeting with parents, students and teachers when they are ready to share their thoughts. To that end, we also remain committed to evaluating opportunities for our department to ensure that students in Oxford - and across Michigan - receive the protection they deserve and that guns are kept out of our schools.”

On Saturday, Oxford Superintendent Tim Throne had announced that the district planned to hire an outside investigator to look at its actions.

Nessel had made an offer to assist the school on Sunday.

The state Office of Attorney General is best situated to do that review, Nessel said, because it houses both civil and criminal attorneys and investigators.

That means the attorney general can look at not only whether any criminal laws were broken, but whether there were civil infractions. Her office also has experience looking at policies and procedures to make sure all were followed and those in place are the best plans.

More: Why prosecutors charged Oxford school shooting suspect's parents

Staff writer David Jesse contributed to this report.

Contact Phoebe Wall Howard at 313-618-1034 or phoward@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @phoebesaid.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Oxford rejects Michigan attorney general's offer of independent review

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