Nina Denson, the principal of Washington Elementary School in San Gabriel has been placed on leave following an active shooter drill gone wrong.
According to reports, during the drill Nina Denson took ‘inappropriate actions’ against students of Washington Elementary where she’s been the principal since Fall 2023.
“She proceeded to walk around campus and pretended to shoot people she saw using finger movements and banging on windows,” said Jennifer Chavez, a parent.
“From what I heard, she said to one of the students, ‘Boom. You’re dead.’”
Following the incident, the school asked her to proceed on leave. Parents said some of the children who witnessed this ‘drill’ were as young as 4 years old.
The trauma potential for these young children was deeply distressing
In light of this, there is a thirst for more information about Nina Denson, the principal of Washington Elementary School in San Gabriel.
This is what we’ve found below.
Who is Nina Denson San Gabriel?
Nina Denson is an educational administrator who joined Washington Elementary School as principal in Fall 2023.
Despite some good reviews so far with many saying she has been actively involved in shaping the school’s environment and policies, her recent actions during an unauthorized active shooter drill have led to significant controversy and her placement on administrative leave.
Nina Denson hit the news when on Wednesday, February 7th, she conducted an active shooter drill at Washington Elementary.
Nina Denson allegedly engaged in a series of actions that deeply upset both children and parents.
Witnesses reported that Denson walked around the campus pretending to shoot people using finger movements and banging on windows.
Shockingly, she reportedly said to one of the students, “Boom. You’re dead.”
Some of the children who witnessed these actions were as young as 4 years old.
One parent shared that her 6-year-old son expressed relief that none of his friends had actually died during the drill.
Jim Symonds, the superintendent of the San Gabriel Unified School District, confirmed that this type of drill scenario was not authorized by the district and was not part of their protocol.
After the drill, Denson allegedly made an announcement that seven children were dead.
The trauma potential for these young children, thinking their friends were killed or they themselves were shot, was extremely distressing.
Due to her actions, district officials later sent an email to parents stating that the conduct of the drill did not align with district protocols or best practices.
An investigation into the incident is underway, and some parents are already calling for Denson’s removal from her role.
Staff members were also reportedly upset by the unauthorized drill.
Counselors were available on school premises for any students or staff who needed support.
A veteran teacher at Washington Elementary will be taking over as interim principal while the investigation continues.
The school administration expressed deep concern regarding the incident involving Principal Nina Denson during the active shooter drill.
In an official statement, they emphasized the following points:
Unauthorized Conduct: The actions taken by Principal Denson during the drill were not authorized by the district. The school’s established protocols for active shooter drills were not followed.
Trauma Impact: The well-being of students is of utmost importance. The trauma potential for young children who witnessed the drill was significant. The school acknowledges the distress caused to both students and staff.
Investigation: The incident is being thoroughly investigated. The school aims to understand the full scope of what occurred and take appropriate measures.
Interim Leadership: An experienced teacher has been appointed as interim principal while the investigation is ongoing. This ensures continuity and stability for the school community.
Support Services: Counselors are available on campus to provide support to any students or staff members who may need it.
The school is committed to maintaining a safe and nurturing environment for all students, and they are taking this matter seriously. Parents and guardians have been informed of the situation, and the district will keep them updated as the investigation progresses .
Nina Denson Washington Elementary
Nina Denson, an educational administrator, joined Washington Elementary School as principal in Fall 2023.
She has been actively involved in shaping the school’s environment and policies. However, her recent actions during an unauthorized active shooter drill have led to significant controversy and her placement on administrative leave.
Below is what we know about Nina Denson’s Education and Career.
Denson is an alumnus of San Diego State University where she studied for a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Speech Communication and Rhetoric, graduating in 1997.
She then joined the University of Southern California for her Doctor of Education in Urban Education and Leadership, graduating in 2017.
She has served as…
Position: Elementary Principal at COMPTON UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
Tenure: Jul 2018 – Present · 5 yrs 8 mosJul 2018 – Present · 5 yrs 8 mos
Position: Assistant Principal at Los Angeles County Office of Education-LACOE
Tenure: Dec 2010 – Feb 2016 · 5 yrs 3 mosDec 2010 – Feb 2016 · 5 yrs 3 mos
Responsibilities: Los Padrinos Juvenile HallLos Padrinos Juvenile Hall -Serving Students, Supporting Communities, Leading Educators
Position: Special Education Teacher at Los Angeles County Office of Education-LACOE
Tenure: Jun 2000 – Oct 2010 · 10 yrs 5 mos
Nina Denson got her position as Principal at Washington Elementary School in San Gabriel in the Fall of 2023.
As principal, she oversaw the school’s operations, student welfare, and educational programs.
In her role, Nina Denson released the following principal’s message:
Dear Students, Parents / Guardians and Staff of Washington Elementary
I am delighted to extend a warm welcome to each and every one of you as the newly appointed Principal of Washington Elementary. My name is Nina Denson, and I am thrilled to be a part of this incredible school community.
At Washington Elementary, our goal is to continue to provide an inclusive and nurturing environment where students can thrive academically, socially, and emotionally. We believe in the power of education as a transformative tool, and it is our mission to ensure that every child receives the best possible education.
As your principal, I am committed to continuing to foster an atmosphere that promotes creativity, critical thinking, and a love for learning. We will strive to cultivate a strong sense of community, where students, parents, and staff work collaboratively to create a positive and supportive school culture.
Our dedicated team of teachers and staff members are passionate about education and invested in your child’s success. They will work tirelessly to create engaging and dynamic lesson plans, tailored to meet the unique needs and interests of each student. It is our firm belief that every child has the potential to excel, and we are committed to providing them with the tools and resources they need to reach their full potential.
In addition to rigorous academic programs, we also emphasize the importance of character development, encouraging kindness, respect, and compassion. We will celebrate diversity, promote inclusivity, and foster a safe and welcoming environment where every student feels accepted and valued.
Parents and guardians, your involvement and partnership are essential to the success of our students. We encourage open lines of communication and your active participation in school activities and events. Together, we can create a remarkable educational experience for your child.
I am truly honored to be serving as the Principal of Washington Elementary. I look forward to getting to know each and every one of you, and to working collaboratively to ensure that your child’s time at our school is filled with joy, growth, and endless possibilities.
Thank you for entrusting us with your child’s education. I am confident that together, we will make this an extraordinary year at Washington Elementary.
Dr. Nina Denson
Principal of Washington Elementary
Active shooter drills
Dr Nina Denson got into trouble over her ‘unorthodox’ active shooter drills, but how exactly are they supposed to be conducted?
Active shooter drills are crucial for preparing individuals and organizations to respond effectively in the event of an active shooter situation. Here are some key components of a typical active shooter drill protocol:
Planning and Preparedness:
Involve Local Law Enforcement: Collaborate with local law enforcement agencies to develop a comprehensive plan.
Discuss access control, movement within the facility, and communication protocols.
Communication Plan: Establish clear communication channels with law enforcement. Consider using police radios in dispatch and emergency hotlines with recorded messages for employees.
Building Familiarity: Provide law enforcement with life safety drawings of your facility, including the location of the Incident Command (IC) center and backup locations.
Staff Training and Education:
Run, Hide, Fight: Educate staff on the Run, Hide, Fight principles:
Run: Evacuate the area if possible.
Hide: Find a secure place to hide if evacuation is not feasible.
Fight: As a last resort, be prepared to confront the shooter.
Scenario-Based Drills: Conduct practice drills that simulate real-life scenarios. These drills should involve staff, students, and other occupants.
Regular Training: Regularly train staff on their roles during an active shooter situation. Ensure they know evacuation routes, safe areas, and emergency procedures.
Response During Drills:
Immediate Action: Staff should take immediate action based on the situation:
Alert: Notify others about the threat.
Lockdown: Secure doors and barricade if necessary.
Evacuate: Move to designated evacuation points.
Law Enforcement Interaction: During drills, law enforcement may participate to assess the organization’s response.
Staff should follow their instructions.
Review and Evaluate: After the drill, conduct a thorough review and debriefing session. Identify areas for improvement.
Feedback: Gather feedback from participants, including staff and law enforcement.
Adjustments: Make necessary adjustments to the plan based on lessons learned.
Remember that active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve rapidly. Preparedness, training, and coordination with law enforcement are essential for minimizing harm and ensuring safety during such incidents.
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