VALLEY, Ala. - An Alabama middle school principal wants to stockpile cans of corn and peas in classrooms for students to hurl at possible intruders as a last resort defense.
In a letter Friday, W.F. Burns Middle School Principal Priscella Holley asked parents to have each student bring an 8-ounce canned item.
"We realize at first this may seem odd; however, it is a practice that would catch an intruder off guard," she wrote in the letter, published by TV station WHNT in Huntsville.
"The canned food item could stun the intruder or even knock him out until the police arrive," Holley wrote. "The canned food item will give the students a sense of empowerment to protect themselves and will make them feel secure in case an intruder enters their classroom."
The school is in Valley, Alabama, part of the Chambers County school system.
Chambers County Schools Superintendent Kelli Hodge told The Associated Press on Tuesday that school staff had been working with Auburn University's Department of Public Safety on training to respond to such emergencies.
However, Chance Corbett, Auburn's associate director of public safety, said he had actually referred the school to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency for active shooter training after learning Monday that school officials wanted the training.
The food cans would be stored in classrooms and students wouldn't be carrying them around school, Hodge told the AP.
Using cans or other items as weapons would be a last resort for students unable to evacuate, she said.
Teachers are taught to barricade classroom doors if an intruder is in the school, but if that fails, the cans and items such as textbooks could be used, she said.
"If somebody is going to force their way through, then as the last resort you would start throwing any objects you could get your hands on," Hodge said.
Asked whether throwing cans of food could make a student a target, Hodge said they would already be a target at that point.
"If it comes to the situation that they are forced to do that, then they are a target because they've not been able to evacuate," she said.
If the cans are not needed for security, they will be donated to a local food pantry at the end of the year, Holley told parents.
"We hope the canned food items will never be used or needed, but it is best to be prepared," she wrote.
The request for canned goods has generated much discussion in the community near the Alabama-Georgia line, but there have been few complaints, Hodge said.
"We had a meeting at the school last night to try to educate parents on it because there had been such a stir," Hodge said. About 15 parents showed up and most of the discussion was positive, she said.