Safety and security concerns: perceptions of preparedness of a rural school district

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Diepenbrock, Robert G.
Patterson, Jean A.

School safety and security continues to be a concern in schools throughout the world as it is not a matter of if, but when a crisis will occur. There is a large segment of the population that attends schools in rural settings making preparedness in rural schools a timely topic. The purpose of this study was to examine a Midwestern rural school district to learn the perceptions of how prepared the school‘s staff felt they were for a crisis situation and to compare their perceptions with local emergency responders. A theoretical framework of protection-motivation theory (PMT) was used throughout the study. PMT postulates when sufficient fear exists and a reasonable probability a catastrophic event could occur, then one is motivated toward protection. It was concluded that the school district was well prepared for crisis situations they have faced, but was not prepared for disasters the school district has not faced. The rural school district has an ―it won‘t happen here‖ attitude regarding safety and security and as a result, has not kept crisis plans, training, and drills updated. The last thorough update took place shortly after the Columbine school shooting and subsequently, fear of a similar attack motivated the district to update their comprehensive crisis plan at that time. As that fear has waned, so has the preparedness of the district.

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Thesis (Ed.D.)--Wichita State University, College of Education, Dept. of Educational Leadership