elementary school principal, mock drill

California Elementary School Principal Investigated For Actions During Mock Shooter Drill

Members of the school's staff claimed the principal made an announcement that seven children had "died" after an active shooter drill.

Nina Denson, the principal of Washington Elementary in California, has been placed on leave following what parents and students said were inappropriate actions during an active shooter drill, according to KTLA.

“She proceeded to walk around campus and pretended to shoot people she saw using finger movements and banging on windows,” parent Jessica Chavez explained to the outlet. “From what I heard, she said to one of the students, ‘Boom. You’re dead.’”

Chavez also said her 6-year-old son was upset following the mock shooting. “The one shocking, surprising thing he said as a 6-year-old was, ‘I’m just really glad none of my friends died.’”

Some of the children who witnessed Denson’s actions were as young as 4 years old. Following the drill, according to members of the school’s staff, the principal made an announcement that seven children had died.

Jim Symonds, superintendent of the San Gabriel Unified School District, told KTLA the drill was “not approved by the district nor part of our district protocol.”

Additionally, parents such as Anna Bustamente were concerned about the headspace of the children following the drill, as she told the outlet, “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.”

Although the district is investigating the incident, some parents, like Chavez, are already calling for Denson to be removed from her role.

“She does not have the trust of the community,” Chavez said.

Some staff members were reportedly upset by the drill.

Officials also told KTLA that counselors were made available for any students or staff members who needed their services. Parents were sent an email on Feb. 8 explaining that a teacher with experience would take over for Denson while the investigation is conducted. 

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