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Students sue for review, changes after Oxford High shooting

Twenty students at a Michigan high school where four students were killed in a mass shooting say their constitutional rights to safety and education were violated.
Credit: AP
FILE - The American flag flies at half-staff on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, outside of Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich. Officials planned to welcome students back to Oxford High School on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, which is reopening for the first time since four students were killed and six students and a teacher were injured during a shooting at the school on Nov. 30, 2021. The students have been attending classes at other buildings since Jan. 10. A fellow student, Ethan Crumbley, 15, is charged with murder and other crimes. His parents also are facing charges. (Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP, File)

WEST BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. — About 20 students at a Michigan high school where four students were killed in a mass shooting say their constitutional rights to safety and education have been violated and that they want changes to ensure security at school, a law firm representing them said Friday.

The federal lawsuit filed Friday names the Oxford Community School District, its former superintendent and other officials. It seeks an independent review and policy changes, including increased transparency and communication from the district.

The Associated Press sent an email seeking comment from the district.

Ethan Crumbley, 16, has been charged with murder and terrorism in the Nov. 30 shootings at Oxford High School, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Detroit, that also left six other students and a teacher wounded. He faces trial in November.

His parents are accused of providing him with access to the gun he used and are awaiting trial for involuntary manslaughter.

The students' lawsuit demands the school district implement a “fully transparent and independent third-party investigation of the actions and events leading up to the shooting" and what it calls an end to the ”practice of concealing and minimizing threats of violence."

The lawsuit doesn't seek financial damages. Other lawsuits following the shooting have sought millions of dollars, saying that the violence could have been prevented.

The latest lawsuit also asks the district to stop returning students to class when they pose a risk of harm to themselves or others.

On the morning of the shooting, Ethan Crumbley’s parents were summoned to the school and confronted with his drawings of a handgun and the words: “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.” Authorities said the parents refused to take him home after the 13-minute meeting.

Rumors of threats and threatening behavior in the weeks leading up to the shooting were ignored and minimized by school officials, said Alicia Feltz, whose daughter will be a sophomore at the high school this fall. “They desensitized and diminished the threats that walked alongside our children in the hallways."

“None of us want to be here right now,” Feltz added. “We have kindly and firmly asked for change and now we're demanding it.”

The parents supporting their children in the lawsuit are known as #change4oxford. Several told reporters that the Oxford School Board has repeatedly declined a review by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office.

The district announced last month that it was hiring a law firm and an independent investigations firm to conduct its own review.

“My fear, now, is they will use attorney-client privilege to withhold pertinent information for the review," said April Ventline, whose son attends Oxford High. "I don’t have faith or trust we will get a clear and honest review.”

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