Absolutely Terrible: Petiton Requests Punishment For Principal Who Faked School Shooting Four Days After Sandy Hook

January 4, 2013  |  


Source: GettyImages.com

Less than a week after the Sandy Hook shootings, Greer Phillips, a principal in East Harlem’s P.S. 79, the Horan School, decided to conduct an unscheduled, unannounced drill.

At 10 am on December 18, the Tuesday after the shooting, a woman’s voice came over the loudspeaker and announced that there was a “shooter” or “intruder” in the building and instructed the teachers to “get out, get out, lockdown.”

The school serves 300 students with special needs like autism, severe emotional disabilities, cerebral palsy and other disorders.

One teacher told the New York Times, “We really thought we were not going home that night. It was probably the worst feeling I ever had in my life.”

Another teacher, Santos Sabio, explained that after five minutes, she realized it was a drill, saying “It was a surprise, but it shouldn’t be a surprise.”

When police officers arrived on the scene, school officials told them it was just a drill.

The day after the drill, Marge Feinberg, a spokeswoman for the New York City Education Department, explained that they were looking into how the drill was conducted and Phillips, the principal, refused to speak to the press.

Now, people who’ve identified themselves as “Friends of Horan,” are petitioning Mayor Bloomberg, requesting that the administrative staff who ordered and implemented this drill be punished.

Planned in secrecy, without any warning or notice to any of the victims, desperate students and staff were traumatized and struggle today with the aftermath. Hundreds of stories have emerged of teachers holding doors down to save their students while calling loved ones to say good bye. Staff falling to the floor in prayer. And brave acts of protection and heroism. 300 fragile students, starting at the age of 12, who have worked all their lives to be strong and overcome emotional hardships were terrorized by this action, and most do not have the voice to respond! Or even to tell their parents!

Please sign to help bring justice to this school, and to not allow an administration of bullies to use the tragic events of Sandy Hook Elementary as an excuse to terrorize those they are charged to serve.

That pretty much sums it up. This type of drill would have been terrible for any school; but the fact that this was conducted at a special needs school, where the students have suffered serious emotional challenges, makes it that much worse. Using a tragedy to further incite fear on students and staff is cruel and it certainly raises questions about the capability of the current principal and administration to serve this school.

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  • hollyw

    This drill was pointless. The point of a drill is to practice to make sure that staff acts effectively during times of crisis to ensure the safety of the children. What’s the point of doing a drill w/o first laying out the protocol or a role-play beforehand?? I can’t imagine being a teacher in this day and age, let alone experiencing this drill days after that tragic event. Administration DEF needs to be checked.

  • Disznok

    Write the principal: gphillips@schools.nyc.gov

  • while I do agree that this should be a new type of drill to be practiced during the school year, like fire drills and earthquake drills, the way this principal went about doing this was just insensitive.

  • Jane

    So how about the important question of why is there only one actual source on the story (NYtimes)? Surely the petition itself can’t be the only source of whether this actually happened the way it’s been told. For all we know this could have just been poor planning on behalf of the Principal and not as malicious as it’s been made out to be.

  • Pingback: The East Harlem Lockdown Drill: Is Stupid Unethical? | Ethics Alarms()

  • SMHgurl24

    The principle should be punished for her stupidity. Why would you do an emergency drill without first giving teachers a plan on how to handle a situation like that, of course people are going to go into panic! I hope the ones teaching those children are smarter then this idiot.

  • IllyPhilly

    Damn, sending children to school is heartbreaking to think about.

  • Reese

    It’s sad that most schools don’t have a protocol in place for active shooter situations. We have them for fires and tornadoes but not for situations like what happened at Sandy Hook. Although I think the principal was well-intentioned she definitely went about it wrong.

  • Kay

    She should be fired, she’s the principal, she shouldn’t be inciting panic in the children. ESPECIALLY at a special needs school, that’s just trifling

  • The fact is it’s against the law to not inform. And it’s child abuse. And labor abuse.

  • Candacey Doris

    Drills are necessary, but her timing and execution need work. Big time.

  • Miss D

    The drill should have been practiced. Fires and
    tornadoes are also emergencies, which is why schools are given protocols
    to practice in such cases. No administrator comes over the PA system
    and yells “Fire!” There is a protocol. If there was a threat of an intruder, they should have announced a lockdown and had a system in place to get students and staff to safety.

  • It’sMe

    Maybe the way they went about it could use more finesse, but usually emergencies don’t give people a heads up when they happen. The fact that some of the teachers fell to floor crying, praying and calling loved ones to say goodbye instead of escorting the children to a safe place really shows schools do need a system to keep teachers cool headed in the incident of such horror. I do hope that the students recover from the trauma though.

    • rzakia

      Totally agree with you. It sounds like the teachers weren’t prepared so if something were to happen then they wouldn’t be able to protect the children. I don’t see anything wrong with it.