Santa Fe Public Schools published an informational video over the weekend that instructs students on three courses of action — run, hide, fight — in the unlikely event of an active shooter.
Superintendent Veronica García said the video is a response to community conversations in recent years in which parents called for more active shooter training. While the video is clear that fighting a gunman with classroom materials is a last resort, some parents expressed concern over social media and directly to the district about placing that idea with students in the first place.
“We shouldn’t be asking children to be responsible for their own safety. Even if you can tell me it’s going to be a last resort, you’ve titled the video ‘Run, Hide, Fight.’ ” said Naja Druva, a therapist focused on early childhood trauma with Las Cumbres Community Services whose son is a pre-kindergarten student in the district. “Clinically speaking, it’s one video for elementary through high schools. I would be suspicious of anything that purports to be appropriate for ages 4 to 19.”
Druva suggested that active shooter training through small group conversations with multiple adults, such as a law enforcement official, a teacher and a counselor or therapist, would be the best way to convey safety protocol.
Santa Fe Public Schools alerted parents about the video through a robocall and email on Friday afternoon but has not yet made a decision on sharing it in class. García and school board President Kate Noble both said it is possible the district will allow parents the chance to choose if their child will watch the video while in school.
García and Noble also both noted that the video about active shooter protocols is less graphic than videos used by other school districts that are produced by private security firms instead of the district itself. For example, videos by a training instute known as ALICE — an acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate — which was contracted by Albuquerque Public Schools last fall, show a gunman entering a school with a handgun. Santa Fe Public Schools’ video does not show a weapon.
By Monday afternoon, the district’s central office said it had received fewer than 20 calls and emails about the video.
“We have had the discussions after the Aztec High School shooting, after the Parkland shooting and after a lockdown at Santa Fe High. We had community meetings on safety and there was a lot of requests for this sort of training,” Noble said. “When people get this fired up, and it’s not thousands but there are some pretty engaged folks, it’s an opportunity to engage people with conversation about how things should be in our schools.”
The video mostly consists of Capital High School Testing Coordinator Toby Wright speaking with a classroom of students about how to act during an active shooter situation.
“The chances of it happening are very small that somebody would come on our campus to hurt us, but we need to be prepared just in case something does,” Wright says in the video. “When we have a lockdown and there is a danger on or near our campus, one of the things that we may need to do is follow the run-hide-fight scenario.”
The video, which had around 800 views by Monday evening, then pivots to Capital High Safety Operations Coordinator Richard Padilla.
“Run, hide, fight — the actions you must take during an active shooter situation are not the same for everyone. You must make a decision on your best and safest course of action depending on your situation and location relative to a threat,” Padilla explains.
The video shows student how to use specialized doorstops to barricade a classroom door and explains that they should close window blinds, hide away from doors and windows, and turn cellphones on silent. It also shows footage of Capital High School students running through hallways during a drill.
After explaining these safety procedures, the video explains how to fight.
“We talked about running, and we talked about hiding, but one thing that might happen if a bad guy comes into our school is that we might have to fight,” Wright says. “Now we probably won’t ever have to do this, but if we do, what are some ways that we might be able to fight a bad guy in the room?”
“We grab something heavy to throw at him,” suggests one female student.
“Can anybody think of what that might be?” Wright asks.
One student proposes throwing a book while another says a chair. Others bring up staplers, scissors, backpacks and laptops.
“So there are a lot of things in the classroom that you can use to fight. What if you’re running? If you’re trying to run away, would it still be a good idea to throw something at somebody?” Wright says.
“Maybe if we throw something at them, maybe they’ll slow down,” answers one male student.
“Absolutely, they might slow down and it might distract them,” Wright says.
García said the run-hide-fight strategy is recommended by the Department of Homeland Security a best practice for dealing with school shooters. The state requires each school to undergo a combination of eight fire, lock down, shelter in place, and evacuation drills each school year. But Santa Fe Public Schools said each school does 11 drills a year to prepare for random situations, such as students at recess or walking between classes when the alarm sounds.
While those drills are mandatory, the video still might not be.
“We have families that don’t want their children exposed to this, and I respect parents’ knowledge of their child’s well-being,” García said. “We put it on our website and had the robocall out because I wanted parents to see it before kids did. I didn’t want to show it to kids and have them go home and surprise parents with it.”