By: Brenda Waters | CBS Pittsburgh
May 16, 2019
HARRISON CITY (KDKA) — A video produced by students in the audio-visual department at Penn Trafford High School has prompted concern.
It was meant to be used as a training drill, should there ever be a real emergency, like a shooter in the building. According to the school district, the video was only to be seen in-house, but without authorization, it was placed on Facebook by students.
Once viewed, some, like Jim Atkins, of Harrison City, thought the person portrayed as the shooter was made to look like a Muslim by wrapping a scarf around his head.
“It shouldn’t be profiling somebody like that,” he said.
He also said he could understand why some may have been offended by that.
Lori Fitzgerald says she isn’t quite sure what to think.
“I’m not sure why they would choose to put a scarf on this person,” she said. “Does it offend me personally? No. I guess I’m not sure what to think about that.”
Trinity Garbacz is a junior at the high school and has her own ideas about how it should have been produced.
“I just thought that maybe they could have used a normal person not to offend anyone. Like, you could have used anyone. You didn’t have to dress him up,” she said. “I could’ve done it, you could’ve done it. It doesn’t have to be a certain religion or race or anything like that.”
In a press release, the district says, “This unofficial release of the video has caused some in the community to question the district’s actions in performing the drill. As indicated above, the active shooter drill conducted at [Penn Trafford] did not intend to represent any particular culture or religion as the shooters.”
The district says the full costumes included a long blonde wig, a scarf, a paintball or tactical mask, as well as a dark, zip-up sweatshirt and dark pants.
The district went on to say, “There was no intent by the district, police department or consultant as part of the training to provide an identity to the volunteers as anything other than an active shooter.”
District officials say they believe in “diversity and inclusion.”
They say in the press release: “PT prides itself on instilling respect for others, in its students and staff and has conducted numerous trainings on cultural diversity. The District strongly believes in diversity and inclusion and strives to provide its students an educational environment reflective of the world community. PT students are empowered to be their authentic selves and value others.”