Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $445,052)
An estimated 10% of K-12 students will experience school employee sexual misconduct during their school career. Such misconduct has a devastating impact on individual lives and institutional trust. Despite recent updates of state laws, no organization currently evaluates or assesses school employee sexual misconduct policies, perpetuating inconsistencies and loopholes. In addition, administrators and school employees often remain unaware of policies or fail to implement them effectively.
To address this problem, this study will examine how districts that recently experienced an incident of school employee sexual misconduct defined, interpreted, and implemented policies before and after the incident. By investigating district strengths and challenges, this study will provide an analysis of existing policies and procedures to prevent and respond to cases of misconduct. Results from this study will also support efforts to improve current policies with findings from reliable data.
Led by Dr. Billie-Jo Grant in collaboration with advisors Dr. Charol Shakeshaft, Dr. Roger Collins, and Ms. Terri Miller, this qualitative case study will include a purposeful sample of five geographically and demographically diverse districts that experienced an incident of school employee sexual misconduct in 2014. Beginning in January 2016, researchers will develop and validate a data documentation checklist and interview and focus group protocols. Data collection will begin in the spring of 2016 with study orientations and document collection, and it will continue throughout the year, with researchers conducting 100 interviews and 15 focus groups with school employees and county officials directly and indirectly involved with the incidents. These confidential, semi-structured measures will ask participants to discuss their knowledge of district policies and procedures, to describe the dissemination of and any changes to these policies and procedures, and to provide recommendations for improvement.
Qualitative data will be triangulated and researchers will use analytic induction and descriptive statistics as applicable to analyze the data. Researchers hypothesize that current implementation practices will reveal shortcomings and warrant changes for policy improvement.
Researchers will supply three interim evaluation reports as well as a final report in September 2017 and Dr. Zoe Barley will serve as the external evaluator. De-identified interview and focus group transcriptions and document collection data will be archived. Results will be disseminated in collaboration with Stop School Employee Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation (S.E.S.A.M.E.net), with summaries provided to district, state, and national administrators and policymakers. Research findings will also be submitted to newspapers and journals and presented at national conferences.
Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law.