Teachers at an Indiana elementary school say they were repeatedly shot with airsoft guns during an active shooter training drill conducted by a local sheriff’s office earlier this year, leaving them with welts and bruises.
Two teachers from Meadowlawn Elementary School told The Indy Star that back in January, White County Sheriff’s officers made them kneel down against a classroom wall before shooting them in their backs with plastic pellets without warning.
“They told us, ‘This is what happens if you cower and do nothing,” recalled one of the teachers. “They shot all of us across our backs. I was hit four times. It hurt so bad.”
Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA) vice president Keith Gambill described the situation further, stating the teachers were called into a small room four at a time and were “fired upon with a semi-automatic type of weapon that shoots soft pellets.”
The teachers were shot three to four times each and were told to not tell any of their colleagues who hadn’t yet been called into the room, according to Education Week.
“The first group went in and we heard them scream and yell,” recalled one teacher. “We thought, ‘What is going on?’”
Teachers Union Demands Verbiage Changes in Proposed Bill
State legislators are considering a school safety bill that would require Indiana schools to conduct at least one active shooter drill each school year. It would also provide school-based mental health services or social-emotional wellness services to students.
Although the bill does not mandate a specific type of training program, teachers at Meadowlawn were receiving ALICE training.
Some law enforcement agencies who conduct the trainings have used sounds of simulated gunfire or fake blood to make the drills more realistic. Barbara Deardorff, an official with ISTA, said she has never heard of teachers being shot with pellets during ALICE training.
While union leaders support the bill, they want safeguards put in place so that teachers and students are not harmed during the trainings.
“What we’re looking for is just a simple statement in this bill that would prohibit the shooting of some type of projectile at staff in an active shooter drill,” ISTA’s director of government relations Gail Zeheralis said during her testimony Wednesday in front of the Senate Education Committee.
Sheriff Bill Brooks, whose department led the training, said it stopped using airsoft guns during active shooter trainings after receiving a complaint, adding that all teachers involved signed up to participate.
“They all knew they could be [shot],” he said. “It’s a shooting exercise.”
Both teachers who spoke with The Indy Star said they were not warned beforehand by the officers that anyone would be shot.
The state Senate’s Education Committee will consider amendments for the bill next week.
“I don’t believe something like that should take place in an active shooter drill,” said Rep. Wendy McNamara, the bill’s sponsor.
Choosing the Right Training, Technology for Your Campus
As more states push for bills requiring at least one active shooter training each year, like Mississippi did this week, how do you decide which type of training or technology is best for your school or district?
Campus Safety recently hosted a webinar on how schools can effectively respond to active shooters.
Panelists Paul Timm, vice president of Facility Engineering Associates, Steve Goldfarb, emergency manager at the University of Southern California, and Laura Frye, director of education and certification at DHI, discussed available technologies, ADA and NFPA compliance, training, and policies and procedures.
Topic discussions also included:
- The pros and cons of various approaches to lockdowns
- Training strategies schools and universities use that have worked
- The strengths and weaknesses of the many lockdown solutions currently available
You can watch the full webinar recording here by logging in to your Campus Safety HQ profile or by signing up for free.
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