Update from Guidepost Solutions on the Status of the Oxford Community Schools Board of Education Independent Investigation
On November 22, 2022, Ken Weaver resigned as Superintendent of Oxford Community Schools. This followed on the heels of the resignations of two board members including the board president. As was stated publicly at the school board meeting that evening, as of November 22, 2022, Guidepost had a fifty percent voluntary cooperation rate, and expected to release its first report documenting the Oxford Community Schools’ current security and threat assessment practices in late January 2023.
Shortly after the announcement of former Superintendent Weaver’s resignation, the Oxford Community Schools Board of Education appointed Anita Qonja-Collins followed by Dr. Vickie Markavitch to serve as Superintendent on an interim basis. Dan D’Alessandro was appointed board president. Additionally, another board member was appointed to serve the remainder of the term of one of the board members who resigned, and three new board members were elected by the citizens of Oxford.
Since early December through January 2023 and now leading into February 2023, voluntary cooperation has increased.
Critical witnesses, administrators, staff, teachers, in addition to Oakland County Sheriff employees seconded to Oxford Community Schools agreed to meet with us. Guidepost now expects to have a seventy to eighty percent voluntary participation rate at the conclusion of our investigation. This increase includes around forty to fifty percent of the critical witnesses or witnesses represented by counsel who we have requested to interview either already sitting for their interview, will have their interview in the coming weeks, or have indicated their intent to meet with us over the next month. Additionally, Oxford Community Schools has a new Executive Director of School Operations who is in the best position to provide context about what is currently in place and may change in the future as it relates to the district’s security and threat assessment practices who we will meet with next week.
Because of these personnel changes and the opportunity to report to the Oxford community on the current security and threat assessment practices with additional information that derives from the increase in voluntary cooperation, Guidepost’s first report will now be released in Spring 2023. This report and any subsequent report will be released to the public at the same time as it is released to the Oxford Community Schools’ Board of Education and its administration. Our public report(s) will be unedited and without influence from any stakeholder associated with the Oxford Community Schools.
For those who have not met with us yet but may have information to contribute, Guidepost’s interviews are confidential and anonymous, where appropriate, meaning generally your voluntary cooperation will not be shared with the district, its counsel, or anyone else associated with the district. We are happy to meet with you at a site outside of Oxford that can help provide you with confidentiality and anonymity, where appropriate. Additionally, our investigators are all trauma informed and are intentional with their approach to ensure a witness’s safety and security.
If you are interested in meeting with us, please confidentially reach out at [email protected] or directly to one of our investigators to set up a time to meet. We are offering in person and virtual interviews, the latter of which can also be done from the comfort of a person’s home or offsite during or after work hours including in the late evening.
As for the twenty to thirty percent of witnesses, and the fifty to sixty percent of critical witnesses—both groupings consisting entirely of individuals who work with Oxford Community Schools—who have not yet voluntarily cooperated with the independent investigation, whether represented by counsel or otherwise, we still request your participation. Guidepost cannot compel cooperation.
In an investigation where cooperation is entirely voluntary, it is not unusual to receive imperfect participation especially where there is a fear of criminal or civil liability to self, coworkers, or the district. However, in this investigation because to our knowledge no district official or employee faces criminal charges, and generally are indemnified by the district, we find it unfortunate that certain witnesses employed by Oxford Community Schools have decided not to voluntarily cooperate to help make Oxford Community Schools stronger, to provide transparency to the community each serves, and to help a review that is intended to inform ways that Oxford Community Schools and school districts across Michigan and this nation can better provide safety and security to students, teachers, staff and other community members from violence.
Additionally, we continue to believe that it is a mistake for current and former Oxford Community Schools’ employees who will be discussed in our report to not meet with us to explain what led up to and occurred on November 30 from their perspective. A decision by Oxford Community Schools’ employees to not cooperate with the investigation hinders our ability to understand context that only the witness can speak to about the facts. In our experience, the extent of third-party interference of this investigation has been unusually extraordinary.
Thankfully, recently, effective communication has dispelled many misunderstandings of the investigative process and intent and has helped address concerns particularly of people not represented by counsel and increased voluntary participation. In the face of these challenges, our continued intent and hope is that our report will be comprehensive and informative and will include facts currently not known and build upon facts already available to the public.