Oxford High School shooting prompts liability questions for schools

In the wake of the tragedy in Michigan where a high school student killed four of his classmates and injured others, parents and community members are asking whether schools should be held legally responsible for failing to keep our kids safe. 

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"Schools are virtually immune from liability, from civil liability," says Catherine Ross of George Washington University Law School. "And in Michigan, as in the majority of states, there's actually a statute that protects them from being held liable in a tort action by the parents or the victims…If we're talking about anything it would certainly be no more than negligence. And in layman's terms, as opposed to technical legal terms, do I think that school officials were negligent? Absolutely."

FOX 5 contacted several local school districts who were all hesitant to comment on matters of student safety and security practices.

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One local school official in Montgomery County told FOX 5 there is no general rule of response. When it comes to specific students, specific measures are used.

This year in schools, student behavior, especially online, has become more threatening than in previous years, especially since before the pandemic. 


Ross also emphasized that when she said the school did not do enough in Michigan, she is not encouraging schools to overreact to the slightest indication of a threat. She said that is perhaps a more common mistake that can be damaging to students now and in their future.