Date of Conferral







Kathleen Lynch


Active shooter events in K-12 schools have increased since 1990, and developing response policies to such events is a responsibility of school personnel. A paucity of data regarding options-based response practices existed with no focus on policy processes. The purpose of this qualitative multi-case study was to describe the decision-making processes used in school districts when approving the inclusion of options-based responses to active shooter events in Emergency Operations Plans (EOPs). The research questions addressed processes that shaped the development of options-based responses to active shooter policies in 3 K-12 school districts within the Midwest. The conceptual framework was informed by the theory of policy paradox and the concepts of situational awareness and resilience. Structured interviews were conducted with 12 school personnel and safety professionals involved in 3 high schools; EOPs and state and federal regulations and guidelines were reviewed. An analysis of the interview responses and document reviews using four levels of descriptive coding required a cross-case analytic technique to discover patterns, connections, and themes. Law enforcement and school personnel worked together to create policy and to implement trainings related to options-based response. Results included enhancing situational awareness and empowering teachers and students to become responsible for their safety. These findings can be used to inform and guide school leaders in their efforts to make policy and implementation decisions regarding active shooter policies in EOPs. The potential for social change exists in more school personnel understanding and implementing options-based response policies and making the lives of K-12 students safer.