Broward County

Heroic Parkland math teacher refused to open the classroom door — not even for SWAT

Marjory Stoneman Douglas algebra II teacher Shanthi Viswanathan, or Mrs. V to her pupils, is hailed as a hero for hiding her students in her classroom and refusing to open the door — even for a SWAT team.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas algebra II teacher Shanthi Viswanathan, or Mrs. V to her pupils, is hailed as a hero for hiding her students in her classroom and refusing to open the door — even for a SWAT team.

High school students often balk at taking algebra. “When will I ever need to use algebra later in life?” is a common refrain. But an algebra class may have saved students’ lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High on Wednesday — or its fast-thinking teacher, Shanthi Viswanathan, to be exact.

When the second fire alarm of the day rang out Wednesday, moments before accused shooter Nikolas Cruz, 19, began a rampage that would leave 17 dead, Mrs. V, as her students call her, immediately made her class crouch low on the floor in the corner of her classroom. She then slapped a piece of paper over the window of the classroom door so no one could peer in from the outside, the Sun Sentinel and Orlando Sentinel reported.

But when a SWAT team arrived and knocked on her door, asking her to open it, Mrs. V wasn’t taking any chances that this could be a shooter’s trick to gain access. According to the parent, Dawn Jarboe, Mrs. V told the knocker, “Knock it down or open it with a key. I’m not opening the door.”

That’s what officers did.

Read the full story here.

Viswanathan’s name joins others whose actions helped save students’ lives, including football coach Aaron Feis, 37, who died Wednesday from bullet wounds he sustained while protecting teenagers from Cruz, the expelled student who returned to his former school Wednesday with an AR-15 rifle. Cruz has been charged by police with killing 17 people.

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