School Climate & Safety Opinion

Tragedy at Ohio High School Reinforces Lessons on Workplace Violence

By Emily Douglas-McNab — February 27, 2012 1 min read
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Ten days ago, I published a blog on workplace violence after reading about a shooting in Long Beach, California between two employees at the local Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) office. My intent was not to scare readers, but instead raise awareness that all organizations, particularly school districts, need to be prepared should such an incident occur. I mention this as planning could literally save lives.

Our nation has seen far too many violent events in schools over the past several years, including student on student violence, parent on board violence, and teacher on teacher violence. No school-big or small, rural, urban, or suburban-is immune. Tragically, violence struck again at an Ohio high school this morning. According to reports, shots broke out at 7:30 a.m. in the cafeteria at Chardon High School, a suburban district 30 minutes east of Cleveland. One student was killed and four others injured. Police have confirmed that the gunman, a student at another local school, is in custody.

You can follow the story on ABC, CNN, or most other major news outlets.

While we can never know for sure when violence might strike, today’s shooting offers a tragic reminder that we all must be aware of potential violence in the workplace and take steps to prepare as best we can to respond should such an incident occur. Talent managers should take the lead to ensure all employees, parents, and students are aware of these dangers, feel comfortable reporting suspicious activity, and understand how to respond in an emergency.

Here are five important questions for districts to address:

1. Do you have a plan to handle workplace violence?
2. Do parents and the community know your plan? Is it on your website?
3. Do you educate students, teachers, principals, and central office staff members to know the plan? How often are plans shared?
4. Is there a process or way for students or staff to report possible issues, anonymously?
5. Is there a person responsible for handling workplace violence issues, and how are they handled?

I want to send my thoughts and prayers to all the staff, students, parents, and members of the Chardon community.

The opinions expressed in K-12 Talent Manager are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.