California Principal Placed On Leave After Pretending To Shoot Students During An Unauthorized Active Shooter Drill

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San Gabriel Unified School District/X

California school principal has been placed on administrative leave due to allegations that she held a disturbing active shooter drill at a local elementary school.

Children and parents are upset at what they say was an inappropriate and traumatic series of actions by Washington Elementary School principal Nina Denson during a lockdown drill last Wednesday.

“She proceeded to walk around campus and pretended to shoot people she saw using finger movements and banging on windows,” said Jennifer Chavez, a parent, according to local news station KTLA. “From what I heard, she said to one of the students, ‘Boom. You’re dead.’”

Some of the children who witnessed the principal’s actions at the school in San Gabriel, CA, were as young as four years old, according to KTLA news. 

“Oh, he was really upset,” Chavez said of her son, who is in first grade. “The one shocking, surprising thing he said as a 6-year-old was, ‘I’m just really glad none of my friends died.’”

 The district superintendent, Jim Symonds, has confirmed that such drills are not approved and do not align with the district’s best practices.

“This type of drill where a scenario was run is not approved by the district nor part of our district protocol,” Symonds said.

After the drill, staff members claimed Denson then made an announcement saying seven children were dead. “Can you imagine the trauma these children potentially could go through just thinking, ‘Oh my God, my friend was killed’ or ‘I was shot and told I died,’” said Anna Bustamante, a parent of one of the school’s students. “At the young age these children are, it was very upsetting.”

District officials have launched an investigation into the incident and say measures have been implemented to address the immediate concerns. A veteran teacher will serve as interim principal while the investigation continues, and counselors are available on campus to support those who may need it.

Some parents have already decided what they think should happen next and are calling for  Denson to be removed from her role.

“I don’t want her back here at all,” said Chavez. “She does not have the trust of the community.”

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