Missouri students and teachers required by law to participate in active shooter drill
March 6, 2014
Teachers in St. Francois County, Missouri, have complained after they were told part of their duties include being shot at with pellet guns during “active shooter” drills. Officials told the teachers they would be required to wear goggles to protect their eyes.
Active shooter exercise in Indiana. Photo: Staff Sgt. Brad Staggs, Atterbury-Muscatatuck Public Affairs
After four teachers contacted the Prosecuting Attorney’s office in the state, Associate Superintendent Sarah Long told KMOX in St. Louis said teachers “could sign up to work in department meetings and in other professional developmental opportunities” instead of participating in drills they found “too scary.”
Missouri students and teachers are required by law to participate in active shooter drills. “In August 2013, the state legislature took a cue from a handful of post-Sandy Hook lawmakers, like the ones in Illinois and Arkansas, and voted to require every school district to conduct simulated shooter drills,” NBC News reports. Drills are “meant to help law enforcement craft strategies to take down active shooters, as well as to familiarize teachers with the sound of guns and teach them to act quickly.”
According to Missouri State Teachers Association spokesman Todd Fuller, the issue has come up before in other school districts in the state. “I think what we’re going to see is a need to readdress and reevaluate the statute,” he told KMOX.
Jerrod Mahurin, the St. Francois County prosecutor, acknowledged teachers had contacted him asking for legal advice. They did not file a formal complaint.
Active shooter drills conducted by police are now routine across the country. In rural Oregon last year, teachers were traumatized when masked men appeared unannounced at a high school in Halfway and burst into a teachers’ lounge and opened fire with blanks.
In January of last year Illinois students in classrooms at the Cary-Grove High School endured police firing blanks in school hallways “in an effort to provide our teachers and students some familiarity with the sound of gunfire,” according to principal Jay Sargeant, CBS Chicago reported. “From the school’s request, they want to let the students know what the sound of gunshot might be, should that occur in their school,” Cary Police Chief Steven Casstevens added.
A number of parents said they were not informed prior to the drill, although the school district claimed it had sent out email notifying them. It said the uninformed parents did not receive the email due to a technical problem.
In the past drills have contained political messages. For instance, in 2004, cops in Muskegon, Michigan conducted a “mock attack” on a school bus as part of a terrorism response exercise. The terrorists portrayed in the exercise were said to be fanatical homeschoolers.
The exercise was a simulated “attack by a fictitious radical group called Wackos Against Schools and Education who believe everyone should be homeschooled,” Homeschool World reported in September, 2004.
The simulated attack was funded by the Department of Homeland Security.
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