Inquiry Into K12 Threat Assessment Team Members’ Perceptions to Drive School Safety Decision Making: A Qualitative Study
School safety is a primary societal concern due to catastrophic incidences of violence and educational leaders have a duty to ensure children’s security. School shootings spotlight failures in school safety but educators and scholars cannot use tragedy to bridge the gap in high-efficacy practice. The problem is that school safety needs to improve and there is limited availability of high-efficacy decision-making resources for K12 educational leaders to use in school safety decision-making. The purpose of this basic qualitative study was to explore Threat Assessment Team (TAT) members’ perceptions of the threat assessment (TA) process to increase the available decision-making resources. Findings from this research may help to globally inform educational leaders. The theoretical framework of this study was composed of the theory of self-efficacy and situational leadership theory (SLT) as a basis for how leaders can guide self-efficacy in school safety competencies. Research questions guided data collection of Florida K12 TAT members’ perceptions of school safety processes and resources. The target population was approximately 23,100 Florida K12 TAT members, the sample was 16 purposefully chosen K12 TAT members, and a validated data collection instrument was implemented. Through extensive thematic analysis, trends developed including resource and process efficacy dependence on implementation fidelity, a culture of safety, the individual stakeholder mindset, and reliant on high-level compliance from all stakeholders. Recommendations for educational leaders are to use this information to guide professional development to target stakeholders’ attitudes and behaviors in efforts to maximize the impact of school safety resources and processes.