INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Members of the Indiana State Teachers Association testified before the Senate Education Committee Wednesday that some of its members were shot with pellet guns and injured during a training session.
The active-shooter training exercise at an Indiana elementary school in January left teachers with welts, bruises and abrasions after they were shot with plastic pellets by the local sheriff’s office conducting the session.
The event, acknowledged in the testimony this week before state lawmakers, was confirmed by two elementary school teachers in Monticello, who described an exercise where teachers were asked by local law enforcement to kneel down against a classroom wall before being sprayed across their backs with plastic pellets without warning.
Monticello is about 90 miles north of Indianapolis.
“They told us, ‘This is what happens if you just cower and do nothing,’” said one of the two teachers, both of whom asked IndyStar not to be identified out of concern for their jobs. “They shot all of us across our backs. I was hit four times.
“It hurt so bad.”
Testimony’s goal is to prohibit the practice
Now, these teachers and the state’s largest teachers union want to stop this from happening in other Hoosier schools. The Indiana State Teachers Association is lobbying lawmakers to add language prohibiting teachers from being shot with any sort of ammunition to a school safety bill working its way through the Statehouse.
“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,” said Gail Zeheralis, director of government relations for the ISTA during testimony in support of House Bill 1004 before lawmakers Wednesday.
The ISTA described a training exercise in some detail via its Twitter account Wednesday afternoon.
“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,” the ISTA Twitter thread reads.
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
Teachers were told not to tell anyone what happened during the exercise, ISTA alleges.
“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,” the tweet read.
The teachers’ union was present to testify and support several pieces of potential legislation, in particular, House Bills 1004 and 1629.
Sheriff has stopped using pellet gun in teacher training
The White County sheriff told the IndyStar Thursday his department has conducted similar training before but, after receiving a complaint, will no longer use the air-powered device, called an airsoft gun, with teachers.
Teachers at Meadowlawn Elementary School were supposed to be receiving what is called ALICE training, an “options-based” approach that encourages students and teachers to be proactive in their response to an active shooter and teaches tactics that include rushing a shooter in some situations.
Thousands of schools across the country, including many in Indiana, are using ALICE already. Shooting teachers with plastic pellets is not typically part of the training.