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Workplace Violence Can Strike Anywhere

March 14th, 2012

Another unfortunate reminder of this came last week when Dale Regan, head of school in Jacksonville was gunned down by a fired teacher.  Homicide is the leading cause of death for women in the workplace.  The U.S. Department of Labor identifies factors that can increase the risk of workplace violence as:

  • Exchanging money with the public.
  • Working with volatile, unstable people.
  • Working alone or in isolated areas.
  • Working where alcohol is served.
  • Working late at night or in areas with high crime rates.

None of these are relevant to a school setting, but violence still found its way there.  Behavioral warning signs are sometimes present, but in a termination, follow up safeguards may be necessary for high risk employees.

Workplace violence: ‘Anywhere, anytime’

by Karen Brune Mathis

Dale Regan’s death Tuesday, which police said was at the hands of a fired teacher, bears out the national statistic that homicide is the leading cause of death for women in the workplace.

According to police, the 63-year-old head of school at the private Episcopal School of Jacksonville was shot and killed Tuesday by 28-year-old Shane Schumerth, a Spanish teacher who was fired earlier in the day. He then killed himself.

As the school, police and the community grapple with the deaths, area organizations likely are reviewing their security and employment policies to determine how to prevent such a tragedy.

It’s not a simple exercise.

“The sad but true fact is all such incidents cannot realistically be prevented. If someone is sick or intent enough to commit such an act there is often nothing that can be done to ensure total prevention short of turning our society into a police state,” said Michael Freed, managing partner of the Brennan, Manna & Diamond firm in Jacksonville. His practice includes business and corporate law.

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