Paper Type

Doctoral Dissertation


College of Education and Human Services

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Leadership, School Counseling & Sport Management

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Leadership, School Counseling & Sports Management

First Advisor

Dr. Carolyne Ali-Khan

Second Advisor

Dr. Daniel Dinsmore

Third Advisor

Dr. Anne Swanson

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Michael Binder

Department Chair

Dr. Liz Gregg

College Dean

Dr. Diane Yendol-Hoppey


This study investigates the apparent threat assessment priorities of potential risks to safety in the school environment in the United States and whether stakeholders in Florida private schools that serve exceptional students agree with the priority given to specific identified potential threats. Faculty and staff, high school students, and the students’ parents and guardians at four Florida private schools for exceptional students rated their perceptions of the severity and likelihood of occurrence of nine potential threats identified in a review of federal and Florida state school safety laws and national and state government surveys of incident occurrences. Results showed that although violent potential threats such as an armed intruder, students bringing weapons to school, and physical assaults received priority attention in federal and state school safety laws, stakeholders in Florida private schools for exceptional students indicated that threats of a more personal nature—such as bullying, sexual harassment, and cyberbullying—were the most significant risks to the safety of their school environment. All three respondent subgroups, however, reported high ratings of their overall feelings of safety at their schools.