To the Editor:
School violence has changed education. Policies and procedures are constantly being developed, implemented, and reviewed to make sure students and staff have a safe learning environment. In a recent Education Week blog post (“Superintendent Faces Discipline After Authorizing Active-Shooter Drill With Mask, Fake Gun,” July 17, 2019), the reporter narrated some of the chaos of an active shooter drill gone wrong in California’s Raisin City school district.
It’s hard to fathom why anyone would think this unannounced drill was a good idea. Security consultant Kenneth Trump had it right when he claimed that this drill was “over the top.” Everyone involved in the exercise has been affected by it, which may provoke emotional stressors. We owe it to students to create a safe learning environment.
The post’s description of 3rd grade teacher Danny Nason’s encounter with a “shooter” during the drill gave me chills. Taking action against an active shooter while maintaining order and safety in the classroom is a tremendous feat. As educators, we chose to enter the field out of a desire and passion to work in a child-oriented field—if we wanted to go into law enforcement, we could have chosen that career.
To create a safe learning environment, policies and procedures should be developed and implemented by a collaborative group including unions, boards of education, and safety professionals.
The National Association of School Psychologists and the National Association of School Resource Officers have developed guidelines available online that are deemed best practice for active-shooter drills. It would be beneficial for every district to follow them.
A version of this article appeared in the August 21, 2019 edition of Education Week as Safe School Procedures Are a Must