California School Superintendent Facing Backlash After Realistic Active Shooter Drill

California School Superintendent Facing Backlash After Realistic Active Shooter Drill

Raisin City Elementary had a terrifying drill held on June 3, in which an “active shooter” went around in a mask holding a gun, shaking doors and yelling. Although it was a drill, the students and many of the teachers were not informed that it was only a drill.

Raisin City Schools’ superintendent, Juan Sandoval, authorized an active shooter drill last month, in which neither students nor many of the teachers were aware that the fake attack was planned. Both teachers and parents are now calling for the superintendent’s ouster, saying that the drill traumatized students and teachers alike, and was handled extremely poorly.

The Raisin City School Board of Trustees voted 5-0 to take “appropriate disciplinary action,” on Tuesday at a special meeting of the school board. Trustees will schedule another meeting where they will announce the details of those actions and allow Sandoval to respond publicly.

Trustee Anthony Monreal said he did not agree, nor was he aware that the drill would take place. He said it was fortunate that no law enforcement officers or armed citizen witnessed the drill, or else someone may have been killed.

“To put them through a situation like this is, in my professional opinion, absolutely incorrect,” Monreal said. “Other districts do not do that with kids present. We were not told. That’s part of the culture that needs to be changed here at Raisin City.”

A statement released Tuesday by E. Toby Boyd, the president of the California Teachers Association, says that the purpose of drills is not to cause psychological trauma to students.

“While the sad reality is that school shooting and lockdown drills have become a necessary safety precaution at schools across the nation, such drills are intended to prevent or minimize both physical and psychological trauma to students, not to cause actual trauma and leave drill participants terrified,” the statement says.

Third-grade teacher Danny Nason, who did not know the drill was going to take place, gave an account of what happened in his room during the drill to The Fresno Bee.

He said the students got in lockdown position, but were not able to stay completely quiet because they had a student with special needs in the classroom who was inconsolable.

The gunman began to approach the door, and it seemed to Nason that he might have to fight the gunman. In preparation, Nason grabbed a fire extinguisher off the wall, and as the door opened, Nason swung the extinguisher at the gunman. He realized it was an employee just in time and diverted his swing, but both the teacher and the students in the classroom were traumatized. Nason said following the drill, the school had an assembly, where staff who were involved with executing the drill were laughing and joking around.

“They were all laughing,” Nason said. “They thought the entire situation was hilarious. While they were celebrating, my students were extremely upset. Some were crying, others were asking me to call their mothers because they had either a stomachache, headache, or wanted to go home.”

One of the parents, Jessica Garza, said her daughter already suffers from anxiety, and the drill only made it worse. She said she’s greatly disturbed by the fact her daughter told her that the students in her classroom were all crying or praying they wouldn’t die.

“My daughter has to see a therapist weekly for her anxiety, so just imagine the children that were frightened that day [and] have no outlet for what they went through,” Garza said.