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Doctor of Philosophy


Public Policy & Administration

First Advisor

Hayley Cleary


The use of threat assessment teams in schools is recommended as a violence prevention measure in K-12 public schools. The present study focused on the threat assessment process in the K-12 environment in Virginia and is the first to examine the association between threat assessment and school safety in tandem over time and the first to incorporate the views of K-12 threat assessment practitioners. Findings from this study demonstrate that while the number of threat assessments has increased overtime, threat assessment practitioners identified numerous concerns regarding threat assessment training, expressed doubts about fidelity to the recommended process, and revealed an overall inconsistency in the implementation of threat assessment and resource availability across the Commonwealth. Additionally, threat assessment practitioners consistently viewed school safety in a holistic capacity and consider threat assessment to be an enhancement to school safety (when it is implemented correctly). Increases in threat assessment were not found to be statistically associated with all aspects of school safety, as only physical security measures maintained a positive association with increases in threat assessment, while there was no association between threat assessment and school climate or exclusionary discipline. Ultimately, threat assessment proves to be a valuable tool to enhance school safety, but further research is needed to understand this connection in more depth.


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