A school district in Pennsylvania is defending its record on diversity after video of a high school active shooter drill was leaked online, which showed a teacher acting as a perpetrator while donning a Muslim-style headdress.
What are the details?
The simulated exercise was filmed in January at Penn-Trafford High School in Harrison City, Pennsylvania, and was meant to be used internally for training purposes. But students released the footage online last week, sparking fury on social media over the attire of one of the actors posing as a “shooter.”
A petition was launched, condemning the school district and demanding it apologize to students and the community. The campaign posted on The Action Network said that “having a member of the staff wear a [headdress traditionally associated with Muslims] was incredibly misguided” and “racist.”
The statement directed at the district also stated, “As you are undoubtedly aware, the overwhelming majority of school shooters are white males between the ages of 12 and 17,” so the drill perpetuated the “misguided notion that Muslims in the United States are responsible for crimes such as these, when crime statistics prove otherwise.”
A student at the school shared her views on the footage to KDKA-TV, saying, “I just thought that maybe they could have used a normal person not to offend anyone. Like, you could have used anyone. You didn’t have to dress him up.”
She added, “I could’ve done it, you could’ve done it. It doesn’t have to be a certain religion or race or anything like that.”
How did the district respond?
The Penn-Trafford School District issued a lengthy statement addressing the matter on Wednesday, explaining that it had staged the exercise with the help of local police departments and “an active shooter drill consultant” and never intended for it to be made public.
It explained that two teachers volunteered to pose as active shooters, and “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.”
The district did not include an apology in its statement, saying it “prides itself on instilling respect for others, in its students and staff and has conducted numerous trainings on cultural diversity.”