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Rantz: After outrage, Federal Way schools pull ‘horrific’ school shooter training video

What started as a well-intentioned attempt to provide students with training in the rare case of a school shooting, turned into a conflict that forced Federal Way Public Schools to pull a training video over concerns it was too intense for young students.

“I am refusing to participate in this training because school shootings are incredibly rare,” one Federal Way public school teacher told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH on the condition of anonymity, as she has not been authorized to provide comment to the media. “However, I believe the chances of a child being traumatized by the horrific video are much greater. If a student does not feel safe at school they are not able to learn. My job is to do everything in my power to provide an environment where students can learn, and this video does not help me achieve this.”

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The training, called “Run, Hide, Fight,” provided video and text resources offering tips to students if they encounter an active shooter at school. They’re told to run, hide, fight back, or a combination of the three strategies, when appropriate. This is standard advice given in cases of active shootings and, according to the district, “parents were provided the option to attend the training at the school, time to meet with the principal if there were any questions or concerns, and/or opt their child out of the training.”

In the video, students are advised to be prepared “to fight in case the assailant gets into the room” as that might be the only option for students. The video re-enacts a man in a hooded sweatshirt entering a packed classroom with a handgun, while a teacher fights back with a stool. Students use textbooks and a laptop as weapons.

The video, which was pulled by the district from their YouTube channel, recommends:

To be effective, use all of your strength and speed to bring down the assailant. You must commit to your actions and do not stop until the threat has been stopped. Use defensive tools such as chairs, textbooks, fire extinguishers, or other items to disrupt or stop the assailant.

The video, made in partnership with the Federal Way Police Department, was originally intended to shown to students from Kindergarten through fifth grade.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with the content. It mirrors what adults are told to do. But some staff and parents believed it would be too intense for many younger students. The told district officials this after they were provided with a preview of the training.

“One school administrator claimed that she had spent many days in seminars where ‘experts’ aka ‘over-paid consultants who have to prove they are worth their high price tag’ gave her data that showed this video was effective,” the teacher explained. “However, when asked, we were not given any information. I refuse to terrify my young students until I know it is necessary.”

After concern was raised, the district pulled the materials to “refine the video based on feedback,” according to a memo sent to principals that KTTH acquired through a public disclosure request. The school would go on to hold focus groups with parents for input.

Deputy Superintendent Dani Pfeiffer, Ed.D., wrote on December 3, 2018 that they recut the video to remove the “Fight” recommendations for grades 3-5, and the full video with recommendations, including to fight, will be shown to students in grades 6-12. Grades K-2 will not get a video, just teacher-led lesson and discussion. In the recut of the video, they also use the term “active danger” instead of referring to an “assailant.”

Pfeiffer declined to provide comment for this story, instead passing along our request to Kassie Swenson, Chief of Communications and Strategy for the school district.

“The safety of our students and staff is at the forefront of everything we do,” Swenson emailed in a lengthy statement. “We appreciate the valuable expertise from staff and our local law enforcement, as well as feedback from our parents, to inform this safety training. Emergency preparedness training for our students and staff provides them the tools on how to be safe in the event of an emergency.”

The revised training will occur this month.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show, at his new time, weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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