Date of Award

Spring 5-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Education & Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Gwen Olmstead, PhD

Second Advisor

Marcia A. B. Delcourt, PhD

Third Advisor

Christopher Longo, EdD

Fourth Advisor

Michael Sinatra, EdD

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine changes implemented by public school district personnel in response to the Newtown school shooting that occurred on December 14, 2012. The researcher used the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS) to gather quantitative data from district and school leaders at the elementary, middle, and high school levels in rural, urban, and suburban school districts in Connecticut. The survey was used to research school practices and programs, school security staff, and staff training implemented prior to and after December 14, 2012. In addition, the researcher examined the impact on school and district budgets before and after December 14, 2012.

This study represented the first time that the SSOCS was specifically used to gather data from school leaders as they assessed their practices before and after a major elementary school shooting. The research study sample included 36 districts and 117 schools. The researcher conducted paired samples t-tests, McNemar tests, and multiple linear regression analyses to measure the impact of the incident. The predictor variables included school grade level, school type (rural, urban, suburban), student enrollment, diversity percentage, and free or reduced lunch percentage.

Quantitative results indicated that districts made significant increases in the number of school practices and programs, school security staff, and staff trainings as a result of the Newtown school shooting. The vast majority of districts (92%) increased their security budgets as a direct result of the Newtown school shooting. In fact, 56% of the districts increased their budget by more than $100,000. The incident was a catalyst to educational leaders at all levels to evaluate their security measures and ensure student and staff safety. The researcher concluded that district and school leaders must assess the needs of their individual schools and design a security plan for the district and a specific safety plan for each school. This plan must include the appropriate balance of school practices and programs, school security staff, staff training, and budgetary support to maximize staff and student safety.

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