By Scott Farnsworth
We have been receiving an increasing number of calls and emails to the KEA with members expressing concerns about the Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate (ALICE) trainings being conducted around the District, and it was a topic of discussion at this week’s AR meeting as well. Reports of injuries, and confusion about who must sign and whether one must sign a waiver were voiced. Many are questioning whether they are required to participate and, if the simulations are a part of their employment requirements, why they would have to waive claims against the District in case of injury during the training.
We are looking into all these questions. In the meantime, we forwarded the fact that we are hearing these concerns to Dr. Sue. We forwarded concerns about the use of firing rubber bullets during the training, about the qualifications of those firing these bullets, and the fact that some have spoken to area law enforcement officers and been told that these groups do not even use rubber bullets in their trainings.
Dr. Sue responded very promptly with the information that no one is required to participate in these trainings and that this point should be and is very clearly expressed at the beginning of every simulation. The waivers are only for non-employee participants to sign. The “bullets” being used by the District, according to Dr. Sue, are not actually rubber bullets, but smaller and lighter plastic pellets (these still seem to have the ability to both sting and bruise, according to participants).
If you have an administrator who seems unclear on any of these points (as occurred a couple years ago with the voluntary Educator Effectiveness workshops), direct them to contact Human Resources or the Superintendent’s office to get clarity – preferably far enough ahead of your training that you are not inadvertently put into a situation you do not feel physically and/or mentally ready to handle. The last thing the District needs are injured staff missing days in the classroom as a result of these trainings – a situation which has already occurred at a couple of schools.
ALICE training has been receiving increased criticism from a number of organizations – some out of safety concerns – others because they feel the training is too narrowly focused on the “active shooter” scenario, at the expense of situations that are much more common to the school setting. Some districts have ceased their involvement because of injuries that have occurred during the simulations.
Regardless of the reason, we would encourage you to exercise your option not to participate if you have reason to feel that it may place you in a situation with which you are not comfortable.