Policy Decisions and Options-Based Responses to Active Shooters in Public Schools

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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.
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Walden University College of Education This is to certify that the doctoral dissertation by Vicki Abbinante has been found to be complete and satisfactory in all respects, and that any and all revisions required by the review committee have been made. Review Committee Dr. Kathleen Lynch, Committee Chairperson, Education Faculty Dr. Christina Dawson, Committee Member, Education Faculty Dr. Dimitrios Vlachopoulos, University Reviewer, Education Faculty Chief Academic Officer Eric Riedel, Ph.D. Walden University 2017 Abstract Policy Decisions and Options-Based Responses to Active Shooters in Public Schools by Vicki M. Abbinante CAS, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2007 MA, Northern Illinois University, 1984 BS, Northeastern Illinois University, 1978 Dissertation Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy Education Walden University May 2017 Abstract 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. Policy Decisions and Options-Based Responses to Active Shooters in Public Schools by Vicki M. Abbinante CAS, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2007 MA, Northern Illinois University, 1984 BS, Northeastern Illinois University, 1978 Dissertation Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy Education Walden University May 2017     ProQuest Number: 10602990     All rights reserved  INFORMATION TO ALL USERS The quality of this reproduction is dependent upon the quality of the copy submitted.  In the unlikely event that the author did not send a complete manuscript and there are missing pages, these will be noted. Also, if material had to be removed, a note will indicate the deletion.      ProQuest 10602990  Published by ProQuest LLC (2017 ). Copyright of the Dissertation is held by the Author.   All rights reserved. This work is protected against unauthorized copying under Title 17, United States Code Microform Edition © ProQuest LLC.   ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway P.O. Box 1346 Ann Arbor, MI 48106 - 1346 Dedication This study is dedicated to all educators who have lost their lives trying to protect their students from harm. This study is also dedicated to educators who work tirelessly everyday so that students can be prepared academically, socially, and emotionally to deal with the complex world in which they live. This study is dedicated to the educators of the 3:17 Club. Their impact on the lives of students is remarkable. Acknowledgments I would like to acknowledge Dr. Kathleen Lynch for her guidance and motivation throughout my PhD journey. I would also like to acknowledge Dr. Christina Dawson for her advice and encouragement as a member of my committee. I am truly grateful that both of these committee members understood the urgency and importance behind a study that concerned the safety of school children during this critical time in history. Also, I would like to mention my mother, Judy Hagen Kovarik, who taught me I could do anything I set my mind to do and my father, Edward Hagen, who planted the seed of the idea of earning a PhD many years ago; my son Justin, who was my greatest cheerleader; my son Brandon, who was my best technical adviser and tireless supporter; and my loving husband, George Mosho, without whose patience and love this study would not have been possible. Table of Contents List of Tables .................................................................................................................... vii List of Figures .................................................................................................................. viii Chapter 1: Introduction to the Study ................................................................................... 1 Background of Study ................................................................................................... 2 Problem Statement ....................................................................................................... 5 Purpose of the Study ..................................................................................................... 6 Research Questions ....................................................................................................... 6 Conceptual Framework .................................................................................................. 7 Crisis Event Scenario That Matches Policy ........................................................... 8 Crisis Event Scenario That Does Not Match Policy .............................................. 9 Nature of the Study ................................................................................................... 14 Definitions................................................................................................................. 14 Assumptions ............................................................................................................... 22 Scope and Delimitations ............................................................................................ 23 Limitations ................................................................................................................. 23 Significance of the Study ............................................................................................ 24 Summary ..................................................................................................................... 25 Chapter 2: Literature Review ............................................................................................ 28 Literature Search Strategy........................................................................................... 29 Political Decision-Making in Schools ........................................................................ 30 Conceptual Framework ............................................................................................... 35 i The Theory of Policy Parodox in Political Decision-Making .............................. 35 Informed Response Through Situational Awareness ............................................ 38 The Concept of Organizational and Individual Resilience .................................... 48 Three Concepts, One Framework ......................................................................... 54 School Safety and Student Achievement ............................................................. 56 Lockdown Response Versus Options-Based Responses……………………………59 Lockdown Response……………………………………………………………..59 Options-Based Response………………………………………………………...61 Government Regulations and Recommendations ....................................................... 64 An Increase in Active Shooter Events ........................................................................ 71 Valuable Statistics……………………………………………………………..…72 The Perpetrator…………………………………………………………………...73 The Active Shooter Incident……………………………………………………..74 Mass Murder Attacks………………………………………………………….…75 Improving Survival………………………………………………………………76 Community Collaboration on School Safety .............................................................. 78 Summary and Conclusion…………………………………………………................82 Major Themes in the Literature………………………………………………….82 What I Learned From the Literature and What is Yet to be Studied…………….83 Filling a Gap in the Literature…………………………………………………….84 Chapter 3: Research Method ............................................................................................. 86 Research Design and Rationale .................................................................................. 87 ii Research Questions ............................................................................................... 87 Central Phenomenon of the Study ........................................................................ 88 Research Tradition……………………………………………………………….89 Rationale for the Chosen Tradition ....................................................................... 89 Role of the Researcher ................................................................................................. 90 Biases and Other Ethical Issues ............................................................................ 91 Methodology ............................................................................................................... 92 Site Selection ........................................................................................................ 92 Sampling Strategy and Participant Selection ........................................................ 93 Instrumentation…………………………………………………………………..94 Recruitment ......................................................................................................... ..99 Data Collection Procedures................................................................................. 101 Data Analysis Plan for Interviews ............................................................................. 105 Data Analysis Plan for Documents ..................................................................... 106 Issues of Trustworthiness .......................................................................................... 106 Credibility ........................................................................................................... 106 Transferability ..................................................................................................... 108 Dependability ...................................................................................................... 109 Confirmability ..................................................................................................... 109 Ethical Concerns ................................................................................................. 110 Sharing Results ......................................................................................................... 111 Summary ................................................................................................................... 112 iii Chapter 4: Results ........................................................................................................... 113 The Process of Data Collection and Analysis ........................................................... 113 Setting and Demographics .................................................................................. 113 Participants in the Study ..................................................................................... 115 Collection of Data ............................................................................................... 117 Analysis of Data .................................................................................................. 119 Themes ...................................................................................................................... 121 Partnerships and Communication ....................................................................... 121 Respecting the Intelligence of Teachers and Students ........................................ 128 Empowerment and Action .................................................................................. 135 Preparing Staff and Students for the Complex World in Which They Live ....... 138 Freedom of Choice .............................................................................................. 141 Connections............................................................................................................... 142 Need .................................................................................................................... 142 Initial Implementation ........................................................................................ .147 Training ............................................................................................................... 150 Follow-Through………………………………………………………………...154 Research Question One ........................................................................................ …158 Research Question Two ............................................................................................ 159 Research Question Three .......................................................................................... 160 Research Question Four ............................................................................................ 161 Document Review ..................................................................................................... 162 iv Presidential Policy Directive Eight ..................................................................... 162 ESEA Title IV Part A ......................................................................................... 162 Guide for Developing High Quality Emergency Operations Plans .................... 163 Rules and Regulations for the State of Ohio ....................................................... 165 Rules and Regulations for the State of Illinois ................................................... 167 Rules and Regulations for the State of Indiana ................................................... 168 EOP for Mesquakie Community High School.................................................... 170 EOP for Harmon High School ............................................................................ 170 EOP for Hickory Creek High School.................................................................. 171 Discrepant Cases ....................................................................................................... 173 Run-Hide-Fight Versus ALiCE .......................................................................... 173 Evidence of Trustworthiness..................................................................................... 175 Summary ................................................................................................................... 176 Chapter 5: Discussion, Conclusions, and Recommendations ......................................... 178 Interpretation of Findings ......................................................................................... 179 Themes ................................................................................................................ 182 Connections............................................................................................................... 185 Limitations of the Study............................................................................................ 189 Recommendations for Future Research .................................................................... 190 Implications for Positive Social Change ................................................................... 191 Recommendations for Action ................................................................................... 193 Reflections on the Research Study ........................................................................... 194 v Conclusion ................................................................................................................ 195 References ....................................................................................................................... 197 Appendix A: Letter to the Superintendent ...................................................................... 212 Appendix B: Participant Consent Form and FAQs......................................................... 215 Appendix C: Protocol Interview Questions One: Team Members ................................. 220 Appendix D: Protocol Interview Questions Two: Teachers ........................................... 224 vi List of Tables Table 1. Theories Used to Generate Research Questions ................................................. 88 Table 2. Research Questions Used to Generate Interview Questions Protocol 1………..97 Table 3. Research Questions Used to Generate Interview Questions Protocol 2………..99 Table 4. Participant Code Explanation…………………………………………………116 Table 5. Interface of Connections with Themes………………………………………..158 Table 6. Federal Document Review Comparison………………………………………165 Table 7. School Safety State Legislative Requirements………………………………..169 Table 8. Comparison of Site EOPs…………………………………………………..…173 Table 9. Discrepant Cases Analysis ............................................................................... 174 vii List of Figures Figure 1. Conceptual Framework Model .......................................................................... 13 Figure 2. OODA Loop ...................................................................................................... 41 Figure 3. Triple Path Model of Illumination (Klein, 2013) .............................................. 45 Figure 4. Preparing for Resilience ................................................................................... 56 Figure 5. Increase in School Shootings 1920-2009 (Lambert, 2013) ............................... 77 Figure 6. Increase in Fatalities and Injuries 1920-2009 (Lambert, 2013) ........................ 77 Figure 7. Coding Analysis Process ................................................................................. 119 Figure 8. Options-Based Outcome Model ...................................................................... 180 Figure 9. Best Practices for Development of an Options-Based Response Policy ......... 189 viii 1 Chapter 1: Introduction to the Study In addition to the responsibility teachers feel for the academic progress of students, educators are concerned for their safety (Dorn, Satterly, Nguyen, & Dorn, 2013). A safe place to learn is necessary for continuous academic improvement (Cornell & Mayer, 2010). Unfortunately, when educators worry about student safety in the 21st Century, it includes more than preparing for fires or tornados. One of the real hazards school personnel are preparing for is the threat of an active shooter. Traditionally, school emergency operations plans (EOPs) have called for a lockdown response when dealing with an active shooter event (Adams, 2013). However, from what has been learned from school attacks over the last two decades, it is the opinion of
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