Hawaii public schools are using outdated active shooter training, security experts say

Students in Hawaii’s public schools are taught to shelter during attacks, including active shooter incidents. But new models suggest running away is first.
Published: May. 27, 2022 at 5:06 PM HST|Updated: May. 27, 2022 at 6:36 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Students in Hawaii’s public schools are taught to shelter during attacks, including active shooter incidents. That’s despite new models that suggest running away should be the first option.

“Run Hide Fight” is the model used by many school districts nationwide. But the Department of Education Assistant Superintendent of Facilities and Operations Randall Tanaka said fighting back is not encouraged, not even for high school students. “You can’t have a 15-year old kid trying to fight a guy or a person,” Tanaka said.

Security experts disagree.

Tom Simon is a retired FBI agent and current private investigator. He said running away from the threat is the no. 1 option.

If the student cannot get away, hiding in a safe place and barricading doors is the next best thing.

“The final option is to fight, that means you grab anything you can and use it as a weapon to attack the attacker,” he said.


Training videos used by a California school district show elementary age students grabbing books, scissors, even a flag pole to use as a weapon as they quietly hide in a classroom.

“To me, it’s just common sense,” Simon said, “We cannot leave our kids like lambs to the slaughter.”

The issue of training and preparation at Hawaii public schools is rising to the fore in the wake of Texas school shooting.

Craig Miller, retired chief of the Dallas Independent School District Police Department, said students need to understand they might be forced to fight.

“It is good to turn off the lights, get in a corner and remain calm, but there is a time when you know someone is outside and if they have the ability to gain access, you’ll have to defend yourself,” Miller said.

The age of the students does makes a difference.

But even at the elementary school level, experts say “Run Hide Fight” can be part of the plan.

Hawaii News Now did reach out to DOE officials asking if the shelter-only training for students is going to be updated, but they did not respond. Public schools are on summer break.

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