NOBLESVILLE, Ind. – The school shooting at Noblesville West Middle School rocked our entire community. Now, school leaders are reviewing their safety plan for the entire district.
And as they do that, some parents are shifting their focus away from the school buildings to the portable classrooms nearby.
(UPDATE: After FOX59 investigated the safety risks of portable classrooms, school officials announced portables will be removed from campuses throughout the district.)
Portable classrooms are trailers used by school districts across the state, usually to house students when there’s not enough space. Some are old. Some are new. And often times, they are used temporarily when schools are under construction.
Now, a parent group in Noblesville called S.O.S (Saving Our Students) Noblesville wants the district to ditch portable classrooms.
“If that’s your intent, to shoot up a school, that’s your easiest target,” said parent Shannon Ford.
FOX59 Investigates found out Noblesville Schools has been using these temporary classrooms across their schools since 1991. They used five trailers in the last school year.
There weren’t any portables at the Noblesville West campus, but some say they could become a target in the future. But in the days after the Noblesville school shooting, we heard from a number of parents in the district concerned about these structures.
One of Lisa Duell’s kids has been in one.
“They’re not safe,” she said. “There’s a huge safety risk.”
Safety expert Sheriff Tim Troyer of Steuben County shares her concerns.
“When you talk about the temporary structures, it’s spread out, so that makes the challenge of making that a safe environment,” said Troyer.
Troyer is President of the Indiana Sheriff’s Association. He spent time with parents in Parkland, Florida after the school shooting there. He believes the portable classrooms could create a scattered campus. He fears, in the event of a school shooting, kids would run outside to get to their main building or become trapped inside a vulnerable trailer.
“It isn’t just the active shooter scenario of a person entering the structure and walking into it, it’s being able to penetrate the walls from the outside in without ever seeing where the students actually are.”
FOX59’s Aishah Hasnie asked Troyer if he would send his child into one of these portable classrooms.
He replied, “I would be reluctant to. You’re going to ask me a personal question. I do have a child in school. I would be reluctant to.”
We asked Noblesville Schools to show us the current safety plan for these portables. But they wouldn’t hand it over, saying it could increase the risk to student safety. Instead, a spokeswoman wrote this:
“Portable classrooms have been a common tool used by growing districts throughout Hamilton County experiencing high enrollment. As part of our safety enhancement analysis we will be reviewing the use of portable classrooms going forward.”
We also asked the district who manufactures its trailers, what materials are they made out of, and whether or not they are bulletproof. We didn’t receive any answers to these questions.
If school leaders decide to keep portables classrooms for another school year, officials haven’t made clear if parents could opt to move their kids into an indoor classroom. But some parents may not wait for the district’s permission.
This group of concerned parents plans to attend the next school board meeting on Tuesday June 12 at 7 p.m. and plead with school leaders to get rid of the portables.