School officials defend Sept. 11 lockdown drill that brought students to tears

Students said they saw a man holding what appeared to be a weapon walk to the door

(KHON) – A lockdown drill at Kaimuki Middle School brought some students to tears because they were worried about their safety.

The drill happened on Sept. 11, while students in one class were watching a documentary about 9/11.

Students said they saw a man holding what appeared to be a weapon walk to the door.

The school’s vice principal says it was part of a lockdown drill that involved several classrooms, and the man was a school staff member wearing a beanie and holding a hammer.

Parents, who did not want to be identified, told KHON2 their kids were in tears and terrorized by the scene.

“(My child has had) sleepless nights since it’s happened, very anxious, concerned about going to school,” one parent said.

The student said at least six kids in her class were crying during the drill.

Another parent said her daughter “was afraid, and she was crying, and another friend was crying as well, and they thought they were going to die.”

Confusion led to more panic, until about 10 minutes later. There was an announcement that it was a drill and the lockdown was over.

The principal at Kaimuki Middle School told KHON2 sometimes they do notify students about these lockdown drills and sometimes they don’t, and they don’t plan on changing that because they want to make sure they know how students will react during these very different situations.

According to psychologist Dr. Suzanne Gelb, these experiences “can be very devastating. It can result in nightmares. It can be a result in a resurgence of problem behaviors that maybe were taken care of already, like rebelliousness, acting out.”

Parents we spoke with say they want to be notified about when these school lockdown drills happen, before and after they happen.

In response to our questions, the Department of Education emailed us saying: “Safety drills provide real-life situations where schools can analyze areas of strengths and weaknesses. In order to accomplish this, students are not notified when a drill will take place.”

We also asked the principal about holding the drill on the anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks. He says he didn’t organize the drill, but says students should be prepared because a real lockdown could happen at anytime.

After the KHON2 report aired, the school posted on its website that “we work hard here at KMS to create a safe and secure environment for students and staff, and to practice drills so that we know how to respond should a crisis occur. It was not our intention to cause distress. We will post approximate dates for every future drill, including the yearly Second-Site Evacuation transportation form.”

Copyright 2015 KHON2.com

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