Walter White, a science teacher at J. P. Wynne High School, is supplementing his pay cheque by cooking methamphetamine – commonly known as crystal meth – on the side. In a bid to quickly and discreetly start a new meth lab with former student Jesse Pinkman, White steals costly supplies from the school’s science cupboard.
This situation presents a number of issues for the school, says Mandy Coalter (below), founder of Talent Architects and former director of people at United Learning. Clearly, White helping himself to items from the school’s chemistry inventory is straightforward theft, and would be treated as a disciplinary matter and potentially an instance of gross misconduct.
The school should have a clear policy in place for dealing with theft, Coalter says, also highlighting that drug dealing and manufacturing are both serious criminal offences.
“The school has to be mindful that the employee works with young people and will need to assess any risk to pupils,” she adds. It should liaise with the relevant agencies, such as the local authorities and police, immediately, says Coalter: “Police action may of course lead to imprisonment and frustration of the employment contract, with potential dismissal for conduct.”
While White never actually smokes crystal meth, Coalter points out that employers should investigate potential drug use and addiction, and offer support – which could include counselling and an occupational health referral.