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IU educators respond to active shooter training incident in Monticello, Indiana

During active-shooter training at Meadowlawn Elementary School in Monticello, Indiana, teachers were shot with plastic pellets and bruised, according to a press release. Now, the incident has been brought to the Statehouse by the Indiana State Teachers Association.

Testimony given to the state last week confirmed teachers were told to kneel on the ground and were then shot with plastic pellets from an airsoft gun. Teachers volunteered to participate but were not aware they would be shot at. It occurred in January with the White County Sheriff’s Department.

The Indiana State Teachers Association is attempting to adjust a school safety bill in the Statehouse to prevent ammunition from being used in shooting training. The White County Sheriff’s Department stated that airsoft guns will no longer be used in training, according to a press release.

ISTA Official Barbara Deardorff said in a press release the training was not conducted as it should have been.

An Indiana House Bill requires schools to have active shooter drills once a year, but does not require any specific training. Gail Zeheralis, director of government relations for ISTA, testified to Indiana lawmakers March 20, stating that the ISTA suggests amendments to the bill.

At the IU School of Education, faculty work to prepare future educators to handle school safety issues. However, Dan Melnick, associate director of professional community programs, said the school does not have any explicit training for school shooting incidents.

“We have offered hostile intruder training workshops and had an all-day event focused on school safety last October,” Melnick said. “But we don’t have any specific programming.”

Each elementary school has its own safety protocol, so the IU School of Education maintains a more general safety training. Melnick said active shooter training is part of a broader issue.

“Training teachers to use or avoid weapons is putting a Band-Aid on a much larger situation,” he said.

The training conducted at Meadowlawn Elementary School is called ALICE, for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate. The training is meant to show teachers how to be proactive in dangerous incidents, according to the ALICE website.

IU senior Emi Milukas, an education major who has participated in student teaching and field experience through the School of Education, said school safety is a constant concern in education classes.

“We have talked a lot about procedures and how to talk about safety in our schools,” Milukas said. “This is definitely a concern of mine for my future career.”

Although IU does not offer detailed safety training for education majors, Melnick said it is not overlooked.

“It’s a very serious issue,” Melnick said. “Our goal is to train educators. It comes down to communication, and we are very open with our students. But there needs to be a much larger, in-depth approach to this.”

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