A Keller middle school drama teacher is under investigation after a father complained to school officials that she assigned his 11-year-old daughter and another student to act out a school shooting.
Jeff Sprekelmeyer said the assignment came to his attention Tuesday after his daughter, a sixth grader at Indian Springs Middle School, mentioned to her mother the “improv scenario” she had been given in drama class earlier that day.
According to his daughter, she and another student were told by their teacher to pretend the school was on lockdown and a shooter was inside, he said. Like charades, he said, the other children in the class then had to guess what the two students were acting out.
“The teacher supplied this to the students,” Sprekelmeyer said. “At what point did the teacher go, ‘This is something we should act out?’ I want to understand the thinking process.”
Tuesday’s incident apparently sparked confusion Wednesday morning, when Keller police officers were dispatched to a report of a possible “active shooter” at Indian Springs.
Scanner radio traffic indicated it was the drama teacher’s husband who had called 911 after receiving text messages from his wife indicating she was in some kind of trouble and that mentioned an active shooter in the school.
Keller police later sent out tweets assuring the public that students and staff at the school were safe.
“Investigators have discovered that a misunderstood text message sent from a staff member to their spouse prompted the 9-1-1 call,” the department said in a tweet.
‘It just defies description’
Sprekelmeyer said it was especially upsetting that the assignment came on the heels of a school shooting last week in South Carolina that left a 6-year-old boy dead and two others injured.
“This wasn’t preparing the students. There was no, What did we learn from this?’ ” Sprekelmeyer said. “Why would you have one of the students be the shooter? There are so many wrongs here. It just defies description.”
Sprekelmeyer sent an email to the school’s principal, the Keller school district superintendent, the Keller police chief, and others Tuesday night, expressing his dismay at the assignment and saying he wanted to meet Wednesday with school officials to talk in person.
“I would like to better understand how this relates to her curriculum and how appropriate and relevant this is for 11 and 12 year olds, or any student in Keller ISD,” he wrote in the email.
Sprekelmeyer said he met Wednesday morning with Assistant Principal Stephanie Speaks.
He said he was told the school would be conducting its own investigation into the matter and that the parents could opt to have their daughter moved to another drama class with a different teacher.
‘That’s kind of morbid’
Keller School district officials confirmed an investigation is underway but could not comment further.
“It is a personnel matter. I can tell you it is being investigated,” said Dinene Rusler, communications secretary for the district.
Sprekelmeyer said his daughter was also brought in during the meeting to answer some questions about the assignment.
She had told her parents that she played the shooter in the scenario and acted as if she wanted to get into the school to rob and shoot students but couldn’t because the doors were locked.
“She said the teacher commended her and her partner for having a unique spin by turning it into a comedy,” Sprekelmeyer said. “To me, that’s kind of morbid. The only other … outcome ends up with a child playing dead on a stage.”