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Massachusetts Superintendents' Perceptions of Multi-Hazard Emergency Plans

Jessica Hammond, Johnson & Wales University


School safety continues to gain attention in American education by both legislators and educators alike (Davis & Davis, 2007, Dorn, 2006, United States Secret Service & U.S. Department of Education, 2004). The events at Columbine High School in April of 1999 were a catalyst for the United States Secret Service to join forces with the United States Department of Education to create the Safe Schools Initiative in June of 1999. This collaboration examined crime and safety within the public school system and conducted a study in which the findings were reported in a document released in 2004. This information was available to school leaders to use in guiding their development of multi-hazard emergency plans; however, it did not create a framework on which to build (United States Secret Service & U.S. Department of Education, 2004). Although this study provides meaningful information to school leaders, further examination will provide school leaders in Massachusetts with a document outlining catalysts and obstacles current school leaders encounter to ease the process of revising multi-hazard emergency plans as required by state law ( /laws/seslaw00/ sl000159.htm, 2010). The research questions in this mixed methods, descriptive design investigated superintendents’ perceptions of their school districts’ emergency preparedness plans and provided an understanding of the catalysts and obstacles faced when implementing. Superintendents from rural, suburban and urban districts participated in this study. A total of N = 44 superintendents completed the survey that contained both qualitative and quantitative items and N = 6 superintendents participated in individual interviews. Thematic analysis was used to analyze and describe the interviews. Data were collected by utilizing Zoomerang©© and analyzed with the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (PAWS/SPSS, 2010) software. Data from the surveys and interviews were analyzed using 1-way analyses of variance. Findings of the study indicate that there is no significant difference among superintendent perceptions of the level of implementation of multi-hazard emergency planning with respect to urbanacity. The study discovered the primary catalyst to be collaboration while the primary obstacle is time/resources. The findings of the study also indicated the strategies that superintendents employ most are connected to communication, training, and funding. The results of the study will play a role in enabling school leaders to develop and implement emergency preparedness plans. They will also assist school leaders with guidance in the implementation of a sustainable emergency preparedness plan within the public school setting.

Subject Area

Social research|Educational leadership|School administration

Recommended Citation

Hammond, Jessica, "Massachusetts Superintendents' Perceptions of Multi-Hazard Emergency Plans" (2011). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3456146.