The project design and implementation are reported for a study of Virginia schools to determine the influence of school security procedures and climate on the risk for students to be referred to and processed by the juvenile justice system (school to prison pipeline).
The study consisted of both qualitative and quantitative investigations. The quantitative study brought together four large datasets maintained by the Virginia Department of Education, Department of Criminal Justice Services, and Department of Juvenile Justice. These datasets enabled researchers to compare school security policies and practices and whether they increased student processing by the juvenile justice system. The qualitative study involved in-depth individual interviews with 34 educational stakeholders across Virginia who are involved in the disciplinary process in the schools. The analysis of these interviews enabled researchers to develop themes regarding how school discipline is differentiated from law enforcement in the schools, as well as the efforts of schools to keep children in the classroom and “out of the courtroom.”