Plans for clinic inside Oxford High School upset community

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

Members of the community voiced their outrage at Oxford Community Schools over a proposal to open a medical and mental health clinic inside the high school in the same location as last November's school massacre and allow the general public in for its services.

In July, the board of education proposed locating the Honor Health Clinic inside classroom 249, a room that served as a teacher lounge and connects to the hallway where accused student guman Ethan Crumbley allegedly shot to death four students and injured seven other individuals. 

At Tuesday's board meeting, Superintendent Ken Weaver announced the location would be changed to another spot inside Oxford High School and services from Honor Community Health would be limited to Oxford students, staff and families.

An Oakland County Sheriff's Office scout car is parked in front of the high school, Tuesday, May 10, 2022, with deputies in the school board meeting. 
Nearly six months after an alleged student gunman killed four Oxford High School students in school, the district updates the community, Tuesday, May 10, 2022, at its 6:30 p.m. board meeting about its promise to have a third-party review into the incident. Families of victims including the family of Hana St. Juliana are outraged no independent investigation has been done. Last week a school board subcommittee was created to consider third-party review candidates and held two public meetings but has yet to formally recommend or present options to the full school board.

Parents such as Lori Bourgeau packed a school board meeting Tuesday night to speak their mind about the Honor Health Clinic Project.

"I can’t understand how this board can even consider it after Nov. 30," Bourgeau said, referring to the date of Michigan's deadliest school shooting. "Mentally ill people will love the chance to have the 'first' second mass shooting in the same school. Kids will stress about people walking up to the building during classes. The school couldn’t keep the kids safe from a student, now they have no way to know if the general public is a threat but they let them in."

The board tabled a motion to approve the clinic which, if approved, would provide medical services, dental sealants, vision referrals and mental health services and referrals to students, staff and families.

Honor Community Health would not charge the district for services that would be funded through a grant program, school officials said. Students 14 years and older can self-refer for mental health services. Medical services would need to be approved by a parent for children under 18.

"The district does not have school nurses to provide many of these services to students. Honor can provide staff training for some medical needs like diabetes and epilepsy," said Todd Barlass, executive director of student services and wellness.

Weaver said the location change for the clinic was made after bids for the project came back too expensive. The district informed Honor officials of the development.

"They want to help and are looking to partner with us and use another section of the building," Weaver said. “They bring a lot of services that can benefit both the recovery and hopefully preventing any instances in the future.”

Board member Heather Shafer said she did not support the original location of the clinic but supports the clinic and the work it can do.

"It's part of us getting on the other side of this, providing another layer of mental health to our staff students and community," Shafer said.

Korey Bailey, board treasurer, said he was nervous about bringing more people into the  school through the clinic and the impact on local therapists and clinics in Oxford.

"Security is a concern and we’ve got small family operations in Oxford that do this," Bailey said.

The board tabled the approval of the clinic until it can bring a reprensentitive from Honor to address concerns.

Oxford High graduate Jace McCarthy told the board the clinic was a terrible idea after the shooting because it would allow members of the public to come into the high school once the district expands the program, something it has said it wants to do.

"We are letting the community use it, at some point? They will be able to come into the school. I don’t think students feel safe," said McCarthy, a 2022 graduate. "Students don’t want to come back here. … Other schools have shut off parts of the building, and we are not doing that."

Killed in the shooting were Hana St. Juliana, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Tate Myre, 16; and Justin Shilling, 17. The school had about 1,650 students in classes the day of the shooting along with about 100 teachers and staff.

The first day of school is Aug. 25.

jchambers@detroitnews.com