Following the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, a habitually abusive public school administration in Harlem subjected over 300 disabled students and staff to a horrific staged school shooting.
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. Some arrived at hospitals for heart pain. 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.
Police officers raced to the school. Some students trembled as they crouched in corners trying to hide. A few staff members began to pray.
“We really thought we were not going home that night,” one teacher said. “It was probably the worst feeling I ever had in my life.”
P.S. 79, the Horan School, serves 300 students with special needs, including those with severe emotional disabilities, autism, cerebral palsy and other disorders. The students range in age from 12 to 21, one staff member said.
The lockdown drill began about 10 a.m. on Tuesday with a woman’s voice on the school’s loudspeaker saying, “ ‘Shooter,’ or ‘intruder,’ and ‘get out, get out, lockdown,’ ” said the staff member, who added that it seemed so realistic that it was hard to tell if the woman speaking was actually talking to a gunman or to teachers and students throughout the school.
At 10:01 a.m., a woman dialed 911 from her cellphone and said she had heard a message over the loudspeaker “that there was an intruder in the school, and that she was in the class with her students,” said a Police Department spokeswoman.
Officers from the 25th Precinct station house responded, she said. When they arrived a minute later, school officials told them that it was just a drill.
The school had already been under a genuine alert the same Friday of the Sandy Hook shooting due to a volatile former student who was believed to have entered the building.
On the day of the "lockdown drill," many students began to cry, shake, and scream in horror. Some students ran and hid into classroom closets, under their desks, and others became aggressive —not knowing how to deal with the chaos and fear.
A movement is growing to hold the school's administration accountable for terrorizing the students and staff. The students need help after being traumatized, and the teachers need to be protected from retribution by the administration for exposing this cruel and unusual assault.
There is a petition calling for justice for the students and staff of that Horan school that will be submitted to NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, if enough signatures are gathered. If you'd care to join the friends of Horan and sign the petition, it's available online here.