USA

Actions by school staff before Michigan shoots fuel questions about their responsibilities: NPR

Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan, a small town about 30 miles north of Detroit.

Emily Elconin / Getty Images


Hide captions

Switch captions

Emily Elconin / Getty Images

Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan, a small town about 30 miles north of Detroit.

Emily Elconin / Getty Images

In the aftermath of a deadly shooting at a high school in Michigan last week, prosecutors took the rare step of filing a criminal accusation against the suspect’s parents.

And they have not yet ruled out a further special step: the proceedings against the school itself.

The outlook for legal action against Oxford High School, located on the outskirts of Detroit, continues to reveal details about concerns raised by school staff hours before the shooting, killing four students and killing six. I was injured. teacher.

These concerns culminated in a meeting between the coaching counselor, the suspect, and his parents on the morning of the attack, after which the suspect was allowed to return to class.

There is now growing question as to whether school officials could take additional steps to prevent shootings and whether the school or its employees could face civil or criminal liability as a result. increase.

Speculation was partially driven by comments by Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald, who refused to dismiss the possibility of indictment by school staff, citing ongoing investigations.

In a television interview on Monday, McDonald’s went a step further, suggesting that school officials made a serious mistake before the shooting.

“We should all look at the events that led to that horrific event and discuss what we could do differently, as a community, as a school, as a nation, as it did not happen. And in this case, many things could have been done differently. “ Talk to Good Morning America..

However, legal action against schools can prove a surge. Experts said the criminal liability of school staff in school shootings was essentially unheard of. Also, sovereign immunity laws that protect government agencies, including school districts, from proceedings often make it difficult to carry out civil liability.

Mike Kelly, a defense lawyer based in Northville, Michigan, who specializes in representing students during school disciplinary action, said: “Everyone in the school is dragged down to Oakland County Jail. I don’t think. “

“But these were or could be done, and there was a perception that the school knew that those treatments were available and did not use them. I think there is, “Kelly said.

The suspect, 15-year-old Ethan Cranby, was charged with 24 felony charges, including terrorism and four murders. His parents, James and Jennifer Cranby, were accused of buying the gun four days before the shooting and unlocking and storing it in their drawer at home. All three pleaded not guilty to all charges.

What happened at school before shooting

School officials have twice expressed concern about the suspect, according to prosecutors, law enforcement agencies, and school officials. One is the day before the shooting and the other is the morning.

The most detailed explanation comes from a letter sent to parents by school district director Tim Sloan last weekend.

On Monday, November 29, the day before the shooting, the teacher found Crumble “seeing an image of a bullet” on his mobile phone during class and sent him to a coaching counselor. According to the letter, Cranby told the counselor that shooting sports are a family hobby.

The next day, the teacher found a disturbing and violent painting explained by law enforcement, depicting a gun, a bullet, and a bleeding person. It contains some of the phrases of concern. “”

A reserved photo of the suspect, 15-year-old Ethan Cranby.

AP


Hide captions

Switch captions

AP

A reserved photo of the suspect, 15-year-old Ethan Cranby.

AP

The school counselor seemed to be alert enough to convene Crumble’s parents to the meeting. There, I asked him to seek counseling for his son within 48 hours. Otherwise, the school will contact child protection services.

Crumbley told the counselor that the painting was “part of a video game he designed,” and asked the counselor to do his homework while he waited for his parents to arrive.

“The counselor never believed that a student could harm others based on his behavior, reaction, and attitude that seemed calm,” Throne wrote. The situation was never escalated to the principal or vice-principal of the school, the letter said.

The district letter emphasized the role of Cranby’s parents, stating that they “flatly refused” to take their son home from school that afternoon.

“The student’s parents never notified the school district that he had direct access to the firearms or that he had recently purchased a firearm for him,” Throne wrote.

School officials allowed him to return to class and did not search for backpacks or lockers, according to law enforcement agencies.

Shortly thereafter, officials say Cranby took his new Sig Sauer 9mm pistol and nearly 50 rounds of ammunition, shot dead four, killed all fellow students, and injured seven.

“Given the fact that the child had no previous disciplinary action, it was decided that he would be returned to the classroom instead of being sent home to an empty house,” Sloan wrote.

“We understand that this decision caused anger, confusion, and prompted comprehensible questions, but counselors made decisions based on their professional training and clinical experience, and we are now. I didn’t have all the facts I knew. “

Experts say criminal cases are unlikely to succeed

The prosecution has not made a decision on criminal accusations against school officials. “We haven’t ruled out billing anyone,” McDonald’s said in an interview with CNN on Monday.

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald was filmed at a press conference last week.

Scott Olson / Getty Images


Hide captions

Switch captions

Scott Olson / Getty Images

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald was filmed at a press conference last week.

Scott Olson / Getty Images

Experts contacted by the NPR agreed that criminal accusations would be unlikely to reach trial, not to mention postponing them in front of the jury.

In decades of school shooting, criminal accusations were basically always limited to the shooters themselves, such as Mark Manes and Phil Duran, who pleaded guilty to illegally selling guns to Columbine High School shooters. Some people also provided guns. Both were minors.

Catherine J. Ross, a law professor at George Washington University and a specialist in school and student-related law, said:

“They will have to find a criminal state of mind and intention not to protect people, and I can’t imagine the existence of such an intention,” Ross said. “The negligence must have been so shocking that remote and careful school managers would not have been able to make those decisions.

Civil lawsuits have barriers, but proceedings can occur anyway.

Even if the prosecutor eventually refuses to file a criminal prosecution, school officials may still face civil proceedings.

“There are several schools that went through a similar process after the shootings, and in many of them the court dismissed the proceedings,” Kelly said. “What happens in this case can obviously be a little different, because I think the culture is just evolving with this.”

Michigan is one of many states where government agencies and agencies, including schools, are not generally sued under sovereign immunity.

According to experts, individual employees may be sued. However, in order to win the proceedings, the victim’s family must prove that the school employee is acting with gross negligence. Negligence was said to be the “closest cause” of their injury or death.

That would be a difficult debate, Ross said. Employees may in fact be concerned about whether other students were injured, or claim that their decision for the day was not a direct and sufficient cause of the outcome of the shooting.

Qualified immunity, the legal defense of civil servants most often used to protect police officers, may also work, Ross said.

But Ross and Kelly agreed, the facts of this case seem unique.

“When we look at a civil case, we first ask: could we foresee that violence could follow what we found, or would it usually be? And the answer here? I think yes, “Ross said.

“Then could the school do or stop violence? And again, the answer is yes,” she added. “And that’s very rare.”

A monument to the victims of the shooting at Oxford High School last week.

Emily Elconin / Getty Images


Hide captions

Switch captions

Emily Elconin / Getty Images

A monument to the victims of the shooting at Oxford High School last week.

Emily Elconin / Getty Images

Courts generally grant authorities suspicious interests when it is necessary to make a momentary decision in a dangerous situation. But experts said the Oxford case included special circumstances, including the fact that the school counselor took more than 90 minutes to assess the situation while waiting for the suspect’s parents to arrive. ..

Later, after the Crumbles refused to take his son home, the counselor chose to return him to class rather than sending him home alone or suspending him from school.

Experts also questioned the situation where the school was serious enough to threaten a call to CPS, but not enough to search for the suspect’s backpack or locker.

Where other civil proceedings were successful

Civil lawsuits against schools after school are common, but are rarely tried. Successful ones usually end in reconciliation.

For example, after a 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, more than 50 negligence cases accuse Broward County Public School of failing to address previous nasty behavior by shooters. bottom.

Eventually, 52 of these proceedings were put together in one $ 25 million settlement for 17 families killed in the shooting and dozens of families injured or traumatized. rice field. The final case was resolved individually.

However, proceedings against schools are often dismissed under the issue of sovereign immunity, as in the case of a lawsuit against a school district in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children were killed by shooters in 2012.

Civil proceedings are more often successful when filed against a shooter or a shooter’s family — in that regard, experts expect Oxford’s proceedings to be no different.

Actions by school staff before Michigan shoots fuel questions about their responsibilities: NPR

Source link Actions by school staff before Michigan shoots fuel questions about their responsibilities: NPR

Back to top button