Colorado school safety: an examination of web availability of emergency management information
Kaiser, Scott, author
Peek, Lori, advisor
Mahoney, S. Patrick, committee member
Williams, Elizabeth Ann, committee member
The Colorado legislature declared their commitment to school safety in 2009. Yet, in the years since, there has been no systematic analysis of how Colorado’s 179 public school districts communicate disaster management procedures through various mediums. In order to begin to fill this void, this thesis reviews and analyzes online safety information published by Colorado school districts. In total, 175 (98%) of Colorado’s 179 public school districts have active websites. These 175 available sites were thus analyzed to understand (1) how many of Colorado’s public school districts include emergency management information as part of their websites, (2) how does this online emergency management information vary by region, setting, student enrollment, and socio-economic status of the students and school districts, (3) how many of Colorado’s public school districts publish emergency management documents online, (4) how do these documents vary by region, setting, student enrollment, and socio-economic status of the students and school districts, and (5) how do Colorado public school districts frame emergency management information published online. To answer these research questions, this thesis uses qualitative document analyses to systematically assess emergency management information and documents found on school district websites.This study found that 31% (55 of 175) of all districts in the state publish emergency management information on their website. These districts enroll 87% of all students in Colorado and tend to be larger than those that do not publish online emergency management information. Furthermore, the Metro Educational Region, North Central Educational Region, and Pikes Peak Educational Region, which all have total student enrollments of over 100,000, are also the only educational regions where 50% or more of their districts publish emergency information online. School districts that did not publish any online emergency management information on their website constitute around 69% (120 out of 175) of school districts. These school districts encompass only 13% of enrolled students in Colorado. Importantly, this analysis revealed a “rural-urban” divide, with approximately 90% of school districts that do not publish online emergency management information located in more rural areas of Colorado. On the other hand, nearly 60% of schools that publish online emergency management information on their website are located within the most populous settings including the Denver Metro, urban-suburban, and outlying city regions. In addition to the analysis of the online information, 48 emergency management documents from 35 school district websites were collected for further analysis. Over 70% of these documents encompassed an all-hazards approach, but exhibited relatively low rates of actionable advice for students (5%), teachers/staff (42%), and parents (53%). This runs counter to a growing body of literature that suggests that in order to increase public preparedness, stakeholder groups must be advised regarding what they should actually do in the face of an emergency. This thesis concludes with a discussion of the implications of the findings and suggestions for interventions based on best practices from the field of emergency management. Ultimately, this thesis reveals the lack in uniformity in published online emergency management information across region, setting, socio-economic status, and student enrollment and suggests new pathways for increasing the dissemination of knowledge via school websites to communicate emergency management information.
Includes bibliographical references.
Includes bibliographical references.