The principal of a middle school in Winter Haven, Florida was suspended for staging an unannounced active shooter “drill” that involved police officers entering classrooms with guns drawn.
Jacquelyn Moore, principal of Jewett Middle Academy Magnet, was suspended Tuesday pending an internal investigation, The Lakeland Ledger reports.
The drill, organized by Moore, other school administrators and the Winter Haven Police department school resource officer, showed “a lack of good judgment,” Kathryn LeRoy, Polk County's school superintendent, said at a school board meeting Tuesday evening.
The Nov. 13 drill began when Moore announced that the school was going on lockdown. Shortly afterwards, the school resource officer and another police officer systematically entered classrooms with weapons in hand — one had a loaded pistol and another had an unloaded AR-15.
“We actually thought that someone was going to come in there and kill us,” 7th-grader Lauren Marionneaux told Fox 13.
Students and teachers were not notified of the drill ahead of time. Parents were only alerted while the drill was taking place, meaning that some parents received terrified text messages from their children and believed that a school shooting was actually occurring.
Leroy explained at the board meeting that last month, the district had requested schools engage in lockdown drills, but not active-shooter drills specifically, according to the Ledger. She also said she and district's director of safe schools didn't know that officers would be brandishing guns during the simulation.
Winter Haven Police Chief Charlie Bird said at the time that it was “very important” to conduct a drill “without everyone knowing it’s a drill.”
However, the backlash from parents and students prompted the department to change their policy on lockdown drills. They announced last week that drills in the future “will be performed by uniformed officers without weapons.”