Date of Conferral

2016

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Public Policy and Administration

Advisor

Anthony Fleming

Abstract

Politicians and educators have debated the merits of arming U.S. school employees to counteract possible school shootings but have not reached a shared point of view. There are few academic studies that specifically explore arming educators in public school systems. Using the general theory of agenda setting, the purpose of this multiple case study was to explore the perceptions of teachers regarding arming of educators between two independent school systems and consider whether arming educators enhances safety measures. An exploratory design was used in which data from two sample populations were compared: faculty (n = 15) from a school district in Texas, which allows educators to be armed, and faculty (n = 36) from a school district located in Alabama, which does not allow educators to be armed. Data were collected via an online survey and then analyzed using descriptive statistics. Safety procedures at both schools were also examined to assess the impact of arming educators on schools and communities using inductive coding and thematic analysis. Findings indicate that participants were not opposed to being armed if adequate policies and training are put in place. Further, the participants generally indicated they currently perceive that they are safe but welcome additional safety measures to prevent serious incidents from occurring. Finally, findings suggest that arming educators does not violate the generally accepted best practice of â??run, hide, and fightâ?? during critical incidents. Positive social change may be achieved through improvements to school safety in public school systems, and recommendations are made to school district administrators to engage in follow on research to determine appropriate policies and training requirements for educators in their respective districts.

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