Other bullied educators from
my former school and I have experienced surreal, "unbelievable-until-you-have-been-there" abuse. I keep calling
it all bullying, but it's not. According to OSHA, it's workplace violence and, unlike workplace bullying, it's against
I heard my former principal ( and these are just a few examples of his violent behavior):
2. Use of verbal harassment: "I may have to write you up"; "That's not
the way we do things around here, honey"; "That's strike two;" "We have to talk. There have been
1. Use of abusive and offensive language: To me: "JESUS CHRIST! Why the F@#$% can't
you stay out of things!?" and to an AP: "GET THE F@#$% OVER HERE!" To children: "SHUT UP!"
2. Exhibit of disorderly conduct: "THIS IS MY SCHOOL!" as he threw out a parent and
I felt so unsafe--knew in my most inner being that I was not safe-- that I asked the police
to accompany me into the school to retrieve my office supplies...
Here's a link to my district's
workplace violence policy:
Here is the policy in its entirety.
If you've been following my story--and my story includes so many other targeted educators--then judge for yourself if we're
talking "mere" workplace bullying or illegal and life threatening workplace violence.
For me there is no question.
Why does Miami-Dade
County Public Schools (M-DCPS) have a workplace violence policy?
Nothing is more important to M-DCPS
than protecting the safety and security of its students and employees and promoting a violence-free work environment. Pursuant
to that goal, the School Board has approved a policy that prohibits threats, threatening behavior, or acts of violence against
students, employees, visitors, guests, or other individuals by anyone on M-DCPS property. The School Board Rule which
states this policy is 6Gx13-4-1.08.
What happens if someone violates this policy?
person who makes substantial threats, exhibits threatening behavior, or engages in violent acts on M-DCPS property shall be
removed from the premises as quickly as safety permits, and shall remain off M-DCPS premises pending the outcome of an investigation
and administrative follow-up.
What kind of actions might be taken with a threatening individual?
will initiate an appropriate response. This response may include, but it is not limited to, suspension and/or termination
of employment, reassignment of job duties, and/or criminal prosecution of the person or persons involved.
type of behavior is considered as threatening?
Threatening conduct takes many forms in the workplace,
varies in terms of boldness, and can be either verbal or non-verbal in expression. In order to be “ears and eyes”
for one another, we need to pay attention to any behavior that creates fear in others,
scares, intimidates or coerces
others, and behavior that may cause emotional or physical injury to others (whether intended or not).
we over-reacting? Sometimes people make threats and don’t really mean them.
It is understood
that most often the person making threats is in need of help. It is far better for that person to get help NOW before
a homicide, suicide, jail sentence occurs, and/or disciplinary action is taken.
consider all threats as serious. Whether intended to be carried out or not, a threat creates psychological distress,
is distracting, and disrupts productivity. Our employees have a right to work in a safe environment. Violence
or the threat of violence by or against students and employees will not be tolerated.
I contact if I observe or become aware of a threatening situation?
Contact the supervisor of your
work location if you hear, observe, or know of a situation that is potentially threatening. The supervisor MUST report
to the appropriate law enforcement agencies and to the district office of M-DCPS Police any criminal act occurring on School
Board property or at any school system-related function. Such acts include, but are not limited to: homicide and
murder; sexual battery; sex offenses; arson; kidnapping; possession and/or concealment of weapons; assault and battery; robbery;
theft; bomb threat; trespassing on school property; possession, sale, or distribution of mood modifiers; possession, use,
or sale of firearms or destructive devices; breaking and entering; sabotaging equipment, vandalism and/or destruction of property.
There are other behaviors or situations that your supervisor may handle routinely, resolve
regular disciplinary measures, and/or refer to the Employee Assistance Program, Office of Professional Standards, the appropriate
police agency, or the M-DCPS Police. These behaviors include, but are not limited to: consistent arguing
with co-workers, adamant refusal to cooperate with others, belligerence toward co-workers or towards students, fascination
with or alluding to violent incidents, stating that he/she has been victimized by others, indirect threats towards others,
body language that is intimidating or threatening, recurring physical fights, suicidal threats, and posting or sending violent
notes, newspaper articles, or sensational literature to co-workers or management.
Why should I report threatening situations? I don’t want to “snitch” on somebody!
a safer workplace is a shared responsibility and will not work if you do not get involved and make a personal commitment to
the policy. It is imperative to encourage early reporting of a threat of violence, because the further along the situation,
the more difficult it will be to defuse.
· What about confidentiality?
information will be treated as confidentially as possible. Discussions will be with people who have a genuine “need-to-know.”
This includes warning potential victims, who may be unaware of the threatening situation.
Are there some things I should do (or not do) if I’m confronted by an imminently hostile
Avoid heroics and avoid provoking an agitated individual further. Known “triggers”
of anger include encroaching on personal space, behaving in a condescending manner with the person, an arrogant voice tone,
lack of eye contact, not listening, and obvious (or perceived) disinterest in what someone is saying.
possible, talk to him/her in a calm tone of voice. Ask the employee what he/she wants or needs to have in order to get
an issue resolved. Hear and understand the employee. Try and build the person’s self esteem. If you
can’t solve the problem, refer the individual to someone who can. These techniques may help you defuse the immediate
In any threatening event, it is important that you document exactly what occurred, what
was said, and when it happened. Your information will help others who may get involved in resolving these issues.
Other than the supervisor of the work location or the M-DCPS Police, who else might intervene
with a threatening individual?
Depending on the situation, there are a number of other appropriate
resources that might get involved with a threatening or troubling individual. The Employee Assistance Program has provided
and continues to provide support for individuals who need help in conflict resolution.
What is the role of the Office of Professional Standards (OPS) in dealing with threatening or
OPS will get involved when an investigation of a threatening situation
has been substantiated and possible disciplinary action may be forthcoming for an employee. If emergency assistance
is needed, the actions of OPS will be consistent with policy, guidelines, and practice in accordance with due process.
Need more information?
If your questions have not been answered, please
feel free to call the offices listed below.
Office of Personnel Support Programs
Employee Assistance Program
County Public Schools Police
Office of Professional Standards
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