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Petition circulates against active shooter drill

Published 9:00pm Friday, January 18, 2013

The mother of a first grader at F.E. Burleson Elementary School has created a petition against a proposed active shooter drill that could involve students at school.

Dondi Johnson, who is circulating the petition on the website www.change.org, said she was filled with “rage” after hearing about the proposed action on local media outlets.

“The main thing that upset us was the fact that it was aired on TV and posted on Facebook before parents were informed about it,” said Johnson, whose 6-year-old attends F.E. Burleson Elementary. “If they were contemplating this, they should have sent a note home before it was announced on TV.”

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE PETITION

At Monday’s Hartselle Board of Education meeting, School Superintendent Dr. Mike Reed and Director of Student Services Jerry Reeves told the board that they were working with the EMA and Hartselle Police and Fire departments to create a mock emergency drill, possibly to be held at F.E. Burleson Elementary School.

One of the proposed exercises was an active shooter drill at the end of a normal school day. Officials said actors would use fake guns to simulate an incident at the school.

However, Johnson said such an activity could potentially be traumatic to elementary-age children.

“I know that the school system is trying to look at the safety of our children, but we should also be concerned about the psychology of our kids,” Johnson said. “When you have an actor pretending to be shooter coming into the school, it’s going to scare the living crap out of the kids.

“The main problem I have is the age of the kids. If it were high school students, then maybe you could explain it to the students and they’ll be able to know the difference between a drill and the real thing. But elementary school children are just too young for that.”

Johnson said the typical lockdown drills that the school already performs are sufficient preparation for the students. However, she does think teachers and school staff should have an active shooter training.

“I think it’s a great idea for teachers and school officials to participate in this kind of a drill, but students shouldn’t be involved,” Johnson said. “I’m all for teachers and school staff wanting to participate in this training.”

Johnson said she’s had nearly 150 signatures already, many of which are from Hartselle, but she felt like it was a good idea to have some from other regions as well.

“We have some from other states, even the U.K. and Morocco,” Johnson said. “All of them just think this idea is asinine to involve kids in an active shooter drill.”

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