Principal suspended after secret school shooting drill terrifies students, teachers
POLK COUNTY, Fla. — A middle school principal was suspended Tuesday in the wake of a controversial safety drill that led students, teachers and parents to believe that a real school shooting was underway.
Jewett Middle Academy suspended Jacquelyn Moore pending a full investigation into last week’s drill, The Ledger reported.
School administrators reportedly initiated a school lockdown, and real police officers began clearing the school with loaded firearms drawn, just as they would during an actual shooting, the paper reported. Some of the officers were reportedly wearing regular street clothes, further adding to the fear and confusion. Some students said officers pointed weapons at them, but the officers disputed that.
What is clear: An officer armed with a handgun aggressively entered a classroom, prompting students to begin calling and texting their parents in the belief that it was a real shooting situation.
Only a few adults were warned about the drill, Gawker reported, meaning that even some teachers believed the danger was real.
Polk County School District told The Ledger that they had authorized a lockdown drill, but did not sign off on a full “active shooter” drill. Superintendent of Schools Kathryn LeRoy claimed that she was not told the officers would carry guns during the drill.
“I very much regret that this occurred,” she told the paper.
According to WTVT, school officials did e-mail parents to inform them of the drill — after it was already over.
“Unfortunately, no one gets an advance notice of real life emergencies,” Polk County Public Schools spokesman Jason Gearey said in a statement. “We don’t want students to be scared, but we need them to be safe.”