Mental HealthNews

Michigan’s duty to warn law doesn’t require school counselors to report homicidal ideations

Oxford High School officials did not report shooters homicidal ideations

Oxford High School administration had a warning before Ethan Crumbley killed four students at the High School on November 30th, 2021. In a recent press conference reported by CNN, Oakland County, Michigan Prosecutor Karen McDonald, the shooter, Ethan Crumbley, wrote a note obtained by his teacher on November 30th, containing homicidal illustrations. McDonald said that school officials did not notify authorities of the contents of the drawing. McDonald explained that the note had a drawing of a dead person from being shot with a laughing emoji and statements such as “The thoughts won’t stop, help me.” The note was so disturbing that Crumbley’s teacher took a picture of the note out of fear. Shortly sometime in the process of the note being discovered, a school counselor was notified of the note and informed Crumbely’s parents to come to the school and had them look at it. But by the time the school counselor obtained it, Crumbley had altered it. However, after the school counselor instructed the parents to get Crumbley professional counseling within 48 hours, they refused and left the school without their son. Crumbley was then taken back to class, and the shooting took place soon thereafter.

Currently, it is unclear why school officials did not report Crumbely’s homicidal note. However, Clinical Times conducted an investigation discovering Michigan’s duty to warn law does not require school counselors or other school officials to alert authorities that a student may be at risk of immediately harming others. Doing so is the first step to initiating an involuntary psychiatric hold, per the State’s law.

Additionally, according to Michigan law, school counselors are not mental health professionals. A document obtained by Clinical Times from the Michigan School Counselor Association says school counselors are licensed by the State’s Department of Education, unlike licensed psychotherapists who are licensed by the State’s professional counseling board. Yet, school counselors can still counsel in the State the document explains. Consequently, Michigan’s duty to warn law is designed for mental health professionals.

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Clinical Times reached out to Oxford Community Schools to comment on the Oxford High School school counselor’s credentials and why they did not report the disturbing note. Unfortunately, they did not respond to requests for comment.

Nonetheless, McDonald explained in the press conference reported by CNN that Crumbley gave early warning signs of potential violence and stated they were not adequately addressed. Clinical Times contacted Dr. Jonathan Shedler, a licensed clinical psychologist, who said, “the time for mental health services is before there is a crisis.”

Although there is no clear indication of what would have happened after those 48 hours had the Oxford High School administration or the parents of Crumbley removed him from school or been required to report the note; nevertheless, Crumbley having depicted killing people on a note with a cry for help isn’t required to be reported per Michigan state law. And it wasn’t until the shooting was over and investigations took place.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter @WilliamDMcGhee.

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Note: the original version of this article had the wrong date of the shooting and has been revised accordingly.

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William McGhee

William Dalton McGhee is the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Clinical Times and writes from time to time. He is a credentialed journalist with the Society of Professional Journalists, a Correspondent with Campus Reform, and a Champion at Liberty University. Follow William McGhee on Twitter @WilliamDMcGhee.

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