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Florida teacher groups want changes to active shooter drills for students

Posted at 6:53 PM, Feb 12, 2020

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — All Florida students are now mandated to attend active shooter drills each month. Now, two national groups and teachers are pushing for a change.

USF Criminology professor Dr. Kathleen Heide treats young people who have experienced trauma and says she’s seen what simulating a school shooting can do.

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“I think we have overreacted to this. I don’t think they [active shooter drills] should be realistic when we are talking about elementary, junior high and high school students. I think it’s unnecessary and potentially traumatizing,” she said.

The National Education Association and the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund want schools to end surprise active shooter drills because they say those drills do more harm than good.

Christopher Stowe is Pasco County’s director of safety and security.

“I think they are value-added when they are done respectfully,” Stowe said.

He says they worked with law enforcement and the district’s student services division to make sure they take mental health into account.

“So, we will use staff potentially as an active threat individual so it’s a known person. We don’t have them carrying any objects or weapons or anything. They’ll have a little sign that will say threat,” he said.

They say the videos they use are different based on the grade level.

The Parkland High School shooting in 2018 led to many security changes, including a state mandate that drills are done every month.

Hillsborough County’s teacher's union wants the drills reassessed, too.

They say they should be more about the procedure and not doing things that will scare students.

“School shootings are very serious, however, they are not common and even though there is an uptick this last year, it’s still a very very rare event," said Heide.