Penn-Trafford responds to concerns over active shooter drill (News)

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Penn-Trafford responds to concerns over active shooter drill.

An active shooter training session at Penn Trafford School District in January is drawing some criticism after video of the training was posted online.

A social media post Tuesday night showed pictures from the training highlighting to attire of one of the acting gunmen. The pictures show the man playing the role in what appeared to be traditional Arab headwear.

A spokesperson for the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh sent Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 a statement in response to the video:

“We are appalled and saddened by the video of the shooter as an Arab produced by Penn Trafford School District. The Islamic Center of Pittsburgh hosts over 1000 students and community members to educate and engage about Islamic beliefs and traditions. To stereotype the shooter is appalling given the data on active shooters and the recent shootings at the Tree of Life and Christ Church. The action of Penn Trafford puts our community of over 10,000 Muslims in the greater Pittsburgh area in great harm.”

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Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 contacted the district to request an interview, but did not hear back. Penn Trafford School District did post a message on its website.

“On January 21, 2019 on a scheduled in-service day for staff, the Penn-Trafford School District conducted an active shooter drill. The drill’s purpose was to practice the District’s emergency response procedures and to build confidence in the staff members’ awareness of how to respond to an emergency. It is essential for schools to prepare for emergencies well in advance and to practice skills they may need to initiate in an active shooter situation. The District partnered with its local police departments and an active shooter drill consultant to conduct the simulation. As a part of the drill, two teacher volunteers with experience handling firearms, were tasked with the role as active shooters. These volunteers were provided costumes and accessories by the consultant group to alter their appearance so that they were not readily recognizable by their co-workers. There was no intent to represent any particular culture or religion.

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The District’s audio visual department students created a video of the drill to be used for future staff trainings. It was not the intent or purpose of the training video to be viewed by anyone other than PT staff as a training exercise. The PT students, proud of their work, posted the video on their YouTube channel and recently received recognition for their work.

This unofficial release of the video has caused some in the community to question the District’s actions in performing the drill. As indicated above, the active shooter drill conducted at PT did not intend to represent any particular culture or religion as the shooters. Screen captures of the video shared on social media fail to show the full costume worn by the volunteer. The individual wore a long blonde wig with a scarf tied around his head and a paintball/tactical mask over his face. He was dressed in a dark zip-up sweatshirt and dark pants. There was no intent by the District, police department or consultant as part of the training to provide an identity to the volunteers as anything other than an active shooter. Please reference the provided images.

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PT prides itself on instilling respect for others, in its students and staff and has conducted numerous trainings on cultural diversity. The District strongly believes in diversity and inclusion and strives to provide its students an educational environment reflective of the world community. PT students are empowered to be their authentic selves and value others.”

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