A California elementary school principal was recently placed on leave over allegations she “pretended to shoot” her students during an unauthorized and disturbing active shooter drill on Wednesday, KTLA reported.
Nina Denson, the principal of Washington Elementary School in San Gabriel, was reportedly forced to take administrative leave after witnesses claimed she staged a mock drill where she pretended to shoot children by making finger-gun gestures.
According to one parent, Jennifer Chavez, “[Denson] proceeded to walk around campus and pretended to shoot people she saw using finger movements and banging on windows.”
“From what I heard, she said to one of the students, ‘Boom. You’re dead,’” Chavez added.
Denson joined the school staff as principal in Fall 2023, but now, parents are calling for her to be permanently removed from her position, claiming her alleged actions during the recent incident were inappropriate and even traumatizing for young children. Students as young as 4 reportedly witnessed the drill.
Chavez stated that her son, who is in the first grade, “was really upset.”
“The one shocking, surprising thing he said as a 6-year-old was, ‘I’m just really glad none of my friends died,’” Chavez told KTLA.
“I don’t want her back here at all,” Chavez continued. “She does not have the trust of the community.”
According to other school employees, after the drill concluded, Denson made an announcement declaring that seven children were dead.
Another parent, Anna Bustamante, told the news outlet, “Can you imagine the trauma these children potentially could go through just thinking, ‘Oh my God, my friend was killed’ or ‘I was shot and told I died.’”
“At the young age that these children are, it was very upsetting,” she noted.
The San Gabriel Unified School District’s superintendent, Jim Symonds, stated that the district did not authorize the mock drill.
“This type of drill where a scenario was run is not approved by the district nor part of our district protocol,” he said.
Parents received a letter from district officials that claimed, “The conduct of the drill does not appear to have been in line with District protocols or best practices.” The district also announced that a veteran teacher at the school will serve as interim principal while an investigation into the incident is underway. Counselors were on the school campus to provide their services to students and staff, officials told KTLA.