Preparing for an instance of workplace violence, especially in a school setting, is rarely a pleasant task. Nonetheless, administrators need to factor in preparedness provisions for a violent incident in the case that a teacher or student loses touch with his or her better judgement and does something rash.
Officials in Florida learned this lesson in most tragic fashion recently after a Spanish teacher named Shane Schumerth killed Headmaster Dale Regan, the leader of Episcopal High School and Schumerth's former employer in Jacksonville.
According to reports, Schumerth had been laid off from his job in early March by Regan for failing to meet expectations. Schumerth then reportedly returned to the school later that afternoon brandishing a guitar case containing an AK-47, which he used to kill Regan. Schumerth then reportedly turned the gun on himself, delivering himself a fatal shot to the head.
While it is difficult to anticipate that this kind of behavior will occur, officials from any formal institution need to be proactive about identifying any warning signs that may indicate violent behavior and take measures to diffuse the situation.
For example, as Rob Cantrell – the father of a boy who was in Schumeth's class – told the Florida Times-Union, "Over the last several weeks, he seemed dark. He repeatedly talked about the communist manifesto and marxism. Something wasn't right."
While it is hard to admit that signs like these may be early indications of violence, it is crucial to address them to avoid this kind of tragedy. In order to better prepare for instances of unexpected workplace violence, it would be wise to send organization representatives to attend the Workshop On Emerging Trends And Approaches: Integrating And Collaborating Resources In Preventing Violence In The Workplace taking place at the Continuity Insights Management Conference 2012 in Scottsdale, Arizona, this April.
At this event, officials can gain valuable insight into the tendencies of disturbed individuals from business continuity professionals, providing a better understanding of how to address and calm down a potentially violent employee with a business continuity plan.