March has been a busy month for school safety incidents. The shock of the tragic school shooting in Chardon, Ohio has caused a larger number of school violence incidents to be reported in the media than is normally the case. As with other many other tragic high profile multiple victim school shootings, many incidents that do not ordinarily garner attention in the national news are making headlines. The positive side of this increased media coverage is that it does help to remind students, parents and parents that school safety is an important topic and that we should all do our part to avert tragedies. All the same, these incidents are a bitter pill for those that have to endure them.
One report that received national coverage today was a terrible murder suicide at Episcopal High School in Jacksonville, Florida. Early reports indicate that a Spanish teacher returned to the school with a semi-automatic rifle concealed in a guitar case and shot the school’s headmistress fatally before taking his own life after he was terminated this morning. Over the years there have been a number of homicides, sexual assaults, hostage situations, deadly fires and other major crisis events in non-public schools around the nation. The deadly shooting at an Amish School in Pennsylvania is one of the more well-known examples.
These tragic situations serve more than adequate notice that non – public schools must also consider all four phases of school crisis planning as relevant and important to their successful operation. Though it is truly sad that any educators must contend with these types of hazards, it is a reality in education across the globe.
Our hearts go out to the members of the Episcopal High School family in their time of difficulty.