Broward County teachers union asks school district to change shooting drills policy

Union: Unannounced school shooting drills can be traumatic

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The shooting that left 17 people dead on Valentine’s Day 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School prompted many changes at Broward County Public Schools -- including a push for more active shooter drills. Some teachers now believe the unannounced drills are traumatizing children.

Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco said the union stands behind a nationwide call to end unannounced active shooter drills to stop traumatizing students, as schools work to keep students safe from gun violence.

The American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund want school districts to change their policy to ensure that the drills do more good than harm by concentrating on training teachers and not on simulating an actual shooting.

“Not knowing if it is real, or if it is a drill," Fusco said. "And then there’s the other component, desensitizing them like, ‘Ugh! Another one!’”

In Florida, schools must conduct active shooting drills monthly, but Broward County Public Schools could soon change that.

“The district agrees that doing that type of drill every single month is excessive and does have an impact on the students,” Brian Katz, Broward County Public Schools chief safety and security officer, said.

The school district plans to move forward with other ways of teaching students and staff how to react in these situations. The ideas include video lessons.

Lori Alhadeff, a member of the Broward County school board and the mother of 14-year-old Parkland shooting victim Alyssa Alhadeff, said the shooting drills are important.

“We need students and teachers to be knowledgeable of what those drills are and confident,” Alhadeff said. “We need to empower our students and teachers to know what to do in a life-threatening emergency.”

About the Authors:

Ian Margol joined the Local 10 News team in July 2016 as a general assignment reporter. Born in Miami Beach and raised in Broward County, Ian is thrilled to be back home in South Florida.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.