Tuesday, February 16, 2010

2 Incidents in February of Teachers Shooting Administrators

Comment Up Front: Hindsight is always 20/20. The hiring and screening process for ALL personnel is extremely important. Having a process to handle allegations against employees is also important to balance protecting the rights of employees versus the safety of your school community. An additional factor associated with workplace violence is how people (teachers, staff, parents, students, spectators, etc) handle bad news and may lose control (immediately, at the next meeting, or after school or an event). 
  • Often people feel embarrassed or akward about admitting that a person(s) or a situation scares, intimidates, or makes them feel uncomfortable so they ignore or deny that. Telling a colleague or a supervisor that "someone" makes you nervous, scared, or uncomfortable is a PRUDENT thing to do be it as a precaution or specific protocol. Requesting another person be in the room during the face-to-face transmission of bad knews and alerting a supervisor, and a school resource officer (SRO) or security personnel. The bad news can be someone  being fired, student suspended, let go due to budget cuts, or not allowed into a sporting event. 

Shooting at Tenn Elementary School: On February 10 in Knoxville Tennessee, a disgruntled 4th grade male teacher (Mark Foster, age 48, single) shot his Principal (Elisa Luna) and Assistant Principal (Amy Brace) in school approximately one hour after the students were released because of snow. Mark Foster was arrested a short distance from the school at a roadblock where he still had his gun and five expended casings (shells). It appears the wounded teachers will survive. The apparent motive was his teaching contract was not going to be renewed for the following year coupled with allegations of past mental instability.
  • Post shooting hindsight: Information gathered after the shooting have highlighted that Anthony Foster (the shooter's brother) had a protection order against his brother. Also, Anthony Foster had sent a number of anonymous emails to the school superintendent and principal discussing the teacher's instability and past mental issues.

Shooting at Univ of Alabama: On Feb 13 in Huntsville, Alabama, a female Harvard educated neurobiology professor (Amy Bishop Anderson, age 42, mother) shot six people killing three people (chairperson and two fellow faculty members) and wounded three others faculty members. the shooting took place at a biology department meeting in a room full of colleagues. She had recently been denied tenure which appears to be the motive coupled with emerging instability and past incidents of violence.

  • Post shooting hindsight: At the age of 19, she was charged with "accidentally" killing her brother with a shotgun in their home following an argument. The police record for this shooting were "lost". Her mother was on the police personnel board during that time period generating suspicions her records were lost. The police didn't question her for 11 days since she was hysterical and she was released by order of the then police chief. According to her husband she was also a suspect in a 1993 bombing investigation at Harvard but was cleared of charges.  

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