U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

School Safety Considerations for Distinct Student Populations - Breakout Session, NIJ Virtual Conference on School Safety

On February 16-18, 2021, the National Institute of Justice hosted the Virtual Conference on School Safety: Bridging Research to Practice to Safeguard Our Schools. This video includes the following presentations: 

School Climate, Safety, and Inequality: Highlighting the Significance of Context and Place, Melissa Ripepi, Nicholas Read, Amy Ernstes, Patricia Campie, and Anthony Peguero

School climate and safety are paramount for educational progress and success, pro-social behavior, and healthy adolescent development. But, there are historic and persistent disparities and inequities in regards to schools and place. As demonstrated in extant research, there are significant distinctions across urban, suburban, and rural communities in regards to school climate and safety. However, there is limited understanding how schools are embedded in a community health context. We will incorporate and integrate a Social Determinants of Health perspective to guide our investigation of the linkages between school climate, safety, and place. This study draws from three distinct California school districts in order to address two broad research questions about the relationship between school safety, climate, and context. First, are there school climate and safety disparities between urban, suburban, and rural school districts? Second, are there distinctions in regards to public health contexts of students who attend urban, suburban, and rural school districts?

Different Disciplinarians in Schools: The Impact of SROs and Principals on School Safety and Student Outcomes, Lucy Sorenson and Shawn Bushway

The "defund the police" movement has included calls to remove school resource officers (SROs) from schools, due to concerns of heightened student contact with the criminal justice system. Without SROs, school principals and staff play an even larger role in maintaining a safe school climate.  Our research uses linked education and criminal justice data from North Carolina to study the impact of both principals and SROs on student outcomes. We find that SROs decrease serious violence, but also increase the use of out-of-school suspensions. We also find that that principals with high(er) proclivity to suspend students increase juvenile justice complaints and reduce high school graduation. In both studies, we observe disparate impacts by race.

An Evaluation of a Comprehensive Approach to Reducing Disparities in School Discipline, Anna Yaros and Cheryl Roberts

From 2018-2021, RTI International is partnering with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina to implement and evaluate a comprehensive initiative to reduce discipline disparities between African American males and other groups. This initiative includes Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS), restorative practices, and culturally responsive practices. Our presentation will provide an overview of the project, study design, and implementation findings from the first two years. This randomized controlled trial with 7 treatment and 9 control schools assesses outcomes, implementation, and cost-benefit. Implementation evaluation questions include fidelity, integration of interventions, facilitators, challenges, and teacher self-efficacy in implementing the interventions. A major lesson learned involved how researchers worked with the district by asking questions and creating a feedback loop. Systems-level findings related to the approach to the roll-out of three interventions, the importance of starting with PBIS, and identifying common practices to communicate to stakeholders. Challenges to actual implementation prior to the pandemic included competing initiatives and leadership priorities, perceived staff burden; communication; a typical high school strategic focus on academics rather social and emotional learning; school size; and time. Coaching practices interrupted these barriers, as did sharing data, training sequencing, and having champions, clear roles, and support structures.

Immigration and School Threat?: Exploring the Significance of the Border, Trey Marchbanks

Although the “myth” about the immigration and crime link is one of immigrant propensity for criminality in the United States, contradictory evidence suggests that immigrants, including youth, are less likely to be deviant. Little is known, however, about the relationship between immigration, schools, and punishment within a school, especially schools on the border. This study contributes to school violence research by investigating distinctions between school discipline and juvenile justice referral rates, as well as the role of immigration, in schools near the Texas-Mexico border in comparison to other Texas schools. We explore the relationship between immigration and school violence by probing variation in school punishment and juvenile justice referral across space. First, how much variability exists in school discipline and juvenile justice referral rates near the border in comparison to other schools?; Second, how much variability exists when statistically controlling for known factors associated with school discipline and juvenile justice referral rates in schools near the border in comparison to other schools?; Third, does the proportion of children of immigrants within a school moderate school discipline and juvenile justice referral rates in schools near the Texas-Mexico border in comparison to other Texas schools? Theoretical and implications are discussed.

Date Created: May 5, 2021