Leaders of the Indiana State Teachers Association say, earlier this year, teachers at an Indiana school were shot with plastic pellets and injured during active shooter training. In response, the union is calling upon lawmakers for more regulation.
ISTA officials confirmed the incident took place at Meadowlawn Elementary School in Monticello, Indiana, in a training administered by White County Sheriff Department.
Union leaders say teachers and some cafeteria staff were brought into a room, asked to crouch down, then shot execution style with plastic pellets from a gun. The bullets resulted in welts and blood, and teachers outside the room reported hearing screams.
On Wednesday, ISTA's Director of Government Relations Gail Zeheralis testified in support of a school safety bill and requested that lawmakers include language to stop this from happening in other schools. While the training took place in January, this was the first public mention of the claims.
“It was like rapid fire type stuff,” Zeheralis says.
ISTA wants lawmakers to prohibit any kind of gun or projectile from being used during school active shooter training. A bill that is focused on school safety grant funding for mental health resources may be amended to include this language.
“It's an unfortunate sign of the times that now, active shooter training is something that school employees have to go through it,” ISTA Vice President Keith Gambill says. “And so we regrettably understand the necessity for such training, but this to our knowledge is the first time that any school employees have been shot at.”
Rep. Wendy McNamara (R-Evansville), the author the school safety funding bill HB1004, says she’s supportive of the adding language.
“I would never assume that somebody would actually go through an active shooter training simulation using pellets against teachers,” McNamara says. “Obviously it did happen but I couldn't imagine that somebody would do that.”
Teachers injured during school safety training is on the rise according to Ken Trump, the president of the National School Safety and Security Service.
“We've seen an alarming increase in the number of teachers who have been in injured as a result of active shooter training alone,” Trump says. “So this is serious stuff that really goes over the top and crosses the line of reasonableness of what would be appropriate for individuals who are, in essence, educators, not law enforcement or military professionals.”
Trump says research shows emphasizing lockdowns and non-combative measures are more effective in keeping students safe. While supporters of this type of training argue it provides options for teachers.
Twin Lakes School Corporation Superintendent Michael Galvin released a statement that said the district is committed to providing a safe environment for its students and employees.
White County Sheriff Department could not be reached in time for publication.