Title page for ETD etd-12082011-122234

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Walton, Roy Hugh
Author's Email Address royrhwalton@aol.com
URN etd-12082011-122234
Title Physical Designs for Safe schools
Degree Doctor of Education
Department Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Earthman, Glen I. Committee Chair
Cash, Carol S. Committee Member
Thornton, Michael E. Committee Member
Twiford, Travis W. Committee Member
  • school facilities
  • school safety
  • safe schools
  • school design elements
Date of Defense 2011-11-18
Availability restricted
Physical Designs for Safe Schools

Roy H. Walton, Jr.


The purpose of this study was to investigate and report the perceptions of principals of high schools built prior to 1999 and high school principals of high schools built in the past five years as well as the perceptions of architects who build and design schools on the physical design elements that support a safe school environment. Qualitative methods of survey research were utilized to collect, analyze and interpret the data regarding the perceptions of principals and architects on the design elements that influence safety in select old and new high schools in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Data collection consisted of recorded and transcribed interviews from a select group of questions tailored for each group of participants. The data were analyzed and emergent themes were generated from the results of the transcribed interviews.

The analyzed data found consistency in all three groups in their response to the interview questions. Common themes from all three groups focused on wide open spaces that increase visibility and hallways wide enough to support the smooth flow of students. All three groups mentioned controlling access to the building by the use of security vestibules and the use of cameras to record and provide surveillance as design elements that support a safe school environment. The location of the school office was cited by all three groups as paramount to school safety. The ability of staff to see who enters the school building and the ability to funnel visitors to the main office and not allow access to other parts of the school building was cited as crucial to a safe environment. All three groups spoke of doors and windows and the ability to secure the large number of doors as problematic.

This study also determined the need for doctoral and principal preparation programs to include specific coursework or training that involves principals in the design phase of constructing schools. Principals need to be involved in the planning and design process to insure new and renovated school buildings have the needed safety features they believe will help them in their work of educating students and providing for the safety of faculty and students. The principal should know and understand the workings of a school building and how a school organization operates. The result of such training would allow the principal to anticipate the effectiveness and consequences of certain designs in regards to the movement of students, program demands and requirements.

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