Indiana elementary school teachers participating in an active shooter training exercise received welts and bruises after they were shot by plastic pellets by sheriff’s deputies conducting the session, the Indianapolis Star reported.
The January incident was part of testimony given by a member of the Indiana State Teachers Association in front of the state’s Senate Education and Career Development Committee, WRTV reported. Gail Zeharalis said teachers were taken into a room four at a time, told to kneel down against a classroom wall, and then were shot “execution-style” with pellets from an airsoft gun, the television station reported.
The incident was confirmed by two elementary school teachers in Monticello, who said they were hit by the 4.6 mm pellets without warning, the Star reported.
“They told us, ‘This is what happens if you just cower and do nothing,’” said one of the teachers at Meadowlawn Elementary School, who spoke to the newspaper on the condition of anonymity. “They shot all of us across our backs. I was hit four times.
“It hurt so bad.”
The ISTA is lobbying for this type of action to stop, the Star reported.
“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,” Zeheralis said during testimony supporting House Bill 1004.
During active shooter drill, four teachers at a time were taken into a room, told to crouch down and were shot execution style with some sort of projectiles - resulting in injuries to the extent that welts appeared, and blood was drawn.— Indiana State Teachers Association (@ISTAmembers) March 20, 2019
The teachers were terrified, but were told not to tell anyone what happened. Teachers waiting outside that heard the screaming were brought into the room four at a time and the shooting process was repeated.— Indiana State Teachers Association (@ISTAmembers) March 20, 2019
No one in education takes these drills lightly. The risk of harming someone far outweighs whatever added realism one is trying to convey here. ISTA requests an amendment in bill so that more reasonable limits are placed on these drills.— Indiana State Teachers Association (@ISTAmembers) March 20, 2019
The teachers at Meadowlawn were receiving ALICE training, an "options-based" approach that takes teachers and students through scenarios in responding to active shooters and includes tactics such as rushing a shooter in some situations, the Star reported.
White County Sheriff Bill Brooks said his department conducted similar exercises but stopped after receiving complaints, according to the newspaper. The pellets are slightly larger than BBs
"It's a soft, round projectile," Brooks told the Star. "The key here is 'soft.'"
Brooks said he attended part of the training sessions in January, but not the part where an airsoft gun was used, the newspaper reported.
"They (teachers) all knew they could be (shot)," Brooks said. "It's a shooting exercise."
Twin Lakes Superintendent Michael Galvin released a statement Thursday, saying the district has met with the Sheriff's Department and the local chapter of the teachers union about the training.
"The Twin Lakes School Corporation is committed to providing a safe environment for its students and employees," Galvin said in the statement.
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