School board prez announces retirement


District to investigate long gun safes

By Don Rush

At the end of the May 23 Oxford School Board meeting, board president Dan D’Alessandro made an announcement.

This may not come as a surprise to some,” he told the board and people in the audience. “It may come as a surprise to others. Some may jump and cheer. My time on the board is almost over. I am moving out of the district either July 1 or July 15, but I want to try and complete some of the things this board is undertaking. And, I want people to know this is something I have given a lot of thought to. As much as I would like to slow the process of my house down, I can’t do it any more.”

Dan D’Alessandro will be Oxford School Board President through this June. Photo provided

When he steps down from the board, he will be the third board member to do so in less than a year. Last September the board’s president, Tom Donnelly and treasurer Korey Bailey resigned. D’Alessandro was soon then elected as board president. His term was to have expired on Dec. 31, 2024.

D’Alessandro, 53, has lived in the district for 48 years, he said. He and his wife Annette have two children, Malena and Anthony who both graduated from Oxford High School.

After the meeting, D’Alessandro said, “I have been on the board for 11 years, and when I started building my house, which, as I told you, resides in the Lapeer school district, state law would prevent me from continuing on the board. So, I will be retiring from the board for that reason and I think anybody that truly knows me as a person would tell you that I do not walk away from challenging situations.”

The “challenging situations” he referred to has been the aftermath of the Nov. 30, 2021 shooting at the high school.

We’ll be here through June. From now until then, I will press hard for the second Guidepost report to be completed and released. As Guidepost reported to the community back in April, they are working with the (Oakland County) prosecutor’s office to redact any information that may interfere with their case against James and Jennifer Crumbley. I certainly respect their efforts to present the case and have a fair trial. Additionally I’ll continue to work with Superintendent Dr. Markavitch on the district’s budget, and continue to do what I can to serve the district.”

This is his second term as Oxford School Board President, the first term as President was 2016-2018. He was first elected to the school board in 2012.

Having the ability to serve this community, our staff, and our students for 11 years as a school board member has been an honor, and one that even with the challenges, I will look back on fondly. We’re just moving to Metamora, but it is part of Lapeer Schools. As you know the law requires board members to live in the district they serve. We will still be part of the Oxford community, this is where our family and friends are. Oxford is a great community, it would be hard to leave completely.”

* * *

Also at the May 23 meeting, the board heard two proposals from the district’s Executive Director of Operations Allison Willemin to purchase rapid response weapons safes to be installed in undisclosed locations in the district. One proposal was to purchase six safes from 360 Life Safety $45,000. The other was an option to buy two safes for $$16,500.

The safes would store long guns and armor for the district’s security officers and School Resource Officers (SRO), who are Oakland County Sheriff’s deputies.

As we are all too aware,” Willemin told the board, “In an active shooter situation, seconds count. Our intent is to save time, and depending on the proposal, provide our SROs and trained security personnel with the tools they need to quickly engage and accurately stop a threat, thus saving lives.”

She said the safes come with an iris scanner to access. “This allows for eliminating codes for access and requires no fine motor skills. Unauthorized access is therefore eliminated. The safe has a backup power source and the ability to be integrated into our alarm system.”

After her presentation, school board vice president Heather Shafer leaned back in her chair, crossed her arms over her chest and said, “I’m just not sure how I feel about this. I think we’re taking a problem, an active problem that we are already living through because of guns and our solution is more guns? I am pro Second Amendment, people have the right to do things in their homes, but as a school – I don’t know about this.”

Her statement brought applause from the audience.

President D’Alessandro said, “This is one of the problems of where we are at. We’re in a situation where we are reacting to an event and sometimes we get so involved in trying to look at things from every single angle . . . there is no, ‘yes this is the right answer’ or ‘no, this is the incorrect answer.’ There is not a ‘yes or no’ to this. This is about what do you look at from a perspective of what’s the most important thing and whether that’s protecting students and being prepared giving five more minutes so the SROs can go to their vehicles, get the long gun that’s already in their vehicle and respond in that matter. That’s a dilemma we all have to answer for ourselves.”

Superintendent Dr. Vickie Markavitch told the board she was glad she doesn’t have to vote on the issue, adding the board and district had three weeks to gather public sentiment and information before acting. “We have the time to be thoughtful,” she said.

Board member Dr. Erin Reis didn’t think the subject was something the board had to act on in “three weeks.” “It is very triggering in this community, every time we talk about guns and gun violence. If we do this, I want to make sure we know every nook and cranny of why we’re it and that the evidence supports it.”

The board did not act on the issue, but suggested it be discussed by the district’s Safety Committee, before it comes back before the board. After a five minute break in the meeting, 12 community members stood before the board – all were against purchasing the safes.



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