Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration




School administrators use control and maintenance to create a safe learning environment for students in the United States public schools. However, when school resource officers (SROs) within U.S. schools are assigned authority over disciplinary procedures certain students become negatively impacted. Substantial research has been conducted regarding the impact and roles of SROs, but very few studies explored the opinions of assistant principals (APs), the individuals typically responsible for the enforcement of school discipline. In this study, a qualitative interpretative design was used to explore what values and beliefs guide APs in their decisions to involve SROs in school disciplinary procedures. Hodgkinson's hierarchy of values served as the theoretical framework. Interviews were conducted with 11 APs, representing 7 high schools amongst 3 school districts in a southeastern state of the United States. Interview responses were coded and analyzed and identified 3 key categories of values used by APs in deciding whether to involve SROs: ethical, organizational, and personal, with ethical values serving as the most frequent determinant for using SROs. The primary ethical values described were faith and spirituality. Based on the analysis of the roles and values of APs, the findings suggest that SROs are not creating safe environments as intended. Instead, the over dependence on SROs negatively impacts students (particularly black and brown students). Findings further suggest that school systems could better meet the long-term needs of students through alternatives to SROs, such as an increased use of professional school counsellors.