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Ohio Principal Poses as Active Shooter in School Drill. This Is Where We Are, America.

December 22, 2019

An Ohio principal decided to pose as the active shooter in a preplanned, schoolwide drill that went awry.

How he did not anticipate that students could be injured is beyond me. Nevertheless, it seems that the principal plans to continue similar drills in the future.

From FOX19 in New Richmond, Ohio, on December 19, 2019:

Several New Richmond Middle School students were injured Tuesday during an active shooter drill, according to the school’s principal.

The incident happened during an ALICE drill, which stands for ‘alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate.’

The school says it uses the drill to simulate an active shooter situation in the building.

First an alarm sounded in the school’s cafeteria during first lunch period, then Principal Court Lilly appeared.

“I pose as the active shooter,” Lilly wrote in a letter sent home to parents. “I utilize air horns to simulate the noise level that would take place in a real event.”

During these ‘chaotic’ moments, the principal says a few students fell to the ground and sustained bumps and bruise. One student reportedly got a cut on her eyebrow.

Following the incident, the school principal sent the following letter to parents. (See FOX19 link for copy of letter, which does not seem to be on the school’s website.):

1135 Bethel-New Richmond Road
New Richmond, Ohio 45157-9507
513-553-6412 Fax

Court Lilly

Patricia Gulley
Guidance Counselor

Parents and Guardians.

I wanted to inform you all that we had an drill today which is the practice of our response for art active shootet in the building. The drill today was conducted primarily in the cafeteria during our first lunch. For purposes of the drill I pose as the active shooter and utilize air horns to simulate the noise level that would take place in a real event. We always invite first responders to our drills and those who can attend do so that they can help in the debrief and evaluation of the drill. Today we had representatives from the New Richmond Fire and EMS as well as the Clermont County Sheriff’s department.

Today students were unclear of what kind of evacuation procedure to follow when leaving the cafeteria which resulted in a chaotic few moments. During these moments a few students fell to the ground and sustained some bumps and bruises and one student sustained a cut on her eyebrow. It is regrettable that any students would ever be harmed while in our care so I first and foremost want to apologize for putting them in that position. I would like to continue to say that we learned a lot from our drill today and it is obvious that we need to develop an effective evacuation plan for the number of students in our cafeteria. We will also practice the evacuation plan with the students in a less stressful situation so they have the opportunity to experience and understand the evacuation plan. The other item that I plan to address with our students tomorrow is a sense of collaborative evacuation. Our goal is to ensure that everyone is out of the building safely it we ever need to evacuate quickly and it became clear today that we also need to spend some time talking about the purpose of the drills and how to evacuate safely together. We were beginning to hear stories of wild rumors of the drill today and I wanted you to
all hear the facts from me. If you have any further questions or concerns please contact me directly and I will be happy to talk about ways to continue to keep all of our kids safe.


Court Lilly

A Commitment to Excellence in Education
New Richmond Exempted Village School District

What if during a future drill, Lilly is the one injured by students trying to “take down the active shooter”?

What about school liability for students injured in this and future drills?

In the above letter, Lilly does not address such questions.

So, this is where we are America. School shootings have become so frequent that active shooter drills are the new normal.

Nevertheless, the principal (or anyone) posing as an active shooter during such drills begs the question of taking drill practice too far. As it is, active shooter drills themselves may well be traumatizing students (and faculty and staff, for that matter)– an issue unaddressed by principal Lilly in his letter to parents.

I know that at times, I have to consciously steer my mind away from fear of being at school, a fear that did not cross my mind 28 years ago when I began my teaching career.

God help us, America.



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  1. My first thought at seeing this story was probably the same as many other folks– here’s a guy who should be out of a job.

    Then my second thought was that this guy might be an otherwise fine principal– strong on curriculum, good at supporting the staff, a guy I might have wanted to work for. But because he sucks at being the buildings primary active shooter security officer, his other strengths as a principal don’t matter. Which I guess is also where we are now. Which sucks.

  2. Threatened Out West permalink

    As a teacher, I wouldn’t trust this principal any further than I could throw him. I can’t believe there aren’t parents clamoring for his head.

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