MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Two school employees who staged a fake gun attack on a group of students during a field trip have been suspended, school officials said Monday.
During the last night of a weeklong trip to a state park, staff members convinced 69 sixth-grade students from Scales Elementary School that there was a gunman on the loose.
The students were told to lie on the floor or hide underneath tables and stay quiet. After the lights went out, some of the children began to cry. A teacher, disguised in a hooded sweat shirt, pulled on locked doors.
Teacher Quentin Masters and assistant principal Don Bartch were suspended for unprofessional conduct and neglect of duty because of the staged attack, schools director Marilyn Mathis said Monday.
Calls to the district offices were not answered after hours Monday. A call to Bartch's home went unanswered Monday night, and a listing for Masters could not be found.
The suspension is without pay and lasts until the end of the school year on June 1, The Daily News Journal of Murfreesboro reported.
"This was not a good experience," said Alisha Graves, whose son went on the trip. "Those kids were crying, and they were terrified."
Some parents said they were upset by the staff's poor judgment in light of the April 16 shootings at Virginia Tech that left 33 people dead, including the gunman.
Bartch, who was present, has said the scenario was intended as a learning experience and lasted only five minutes.
"We got together and discussed what we would have done in a real situation," he said.