Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies


College of Education

First Advisor

Zach Kelehear


In this study, principals in the low country region of South Carolina were surveyed to assess their perceived preparedness for, and experiences of, crisis events in their schools. This study replicated a study, conducted by Adamson and Peacock (2007), which was presented in an article entitled Crisis Response in the Public Schools: A Survey of School Psychologists’ Experiences and Perceptions. Although their research was important, the population was limited to school psychologists. A literature review revealed no research on lessons learned from school principals. Since principals are responsible for managing the school from the moments following a crisis through the aftermath, information obtained from them is critical in understanding the most effective crisis response practices.

The population of this study consisted of acting principals in the South Carolina low country. A final sample size of 35 participants completed an on-line survey comprised of the same questions (with the addition of three) that Adamson and Peacock asked of school psychologists. Results of the study were analyzed using descriptive statistics to determine the frequency and response rate for each item. The findings of this study suggested that although more than 70% of the principals who participated in the study had experienced a significant crisis event, only half of the participants believed they were sufficiently prepared for such an event. Although nearly all of the principals had received training on crisis intervention, nearly half believed they needed additional training to be sufficiently prepared for such an event.

The study also assessed the principals’ perceptions of the most effective crisis prevention, intervention, and postvention strategies. The results indicated that they recognized the importance of having pre-existing crisis teams, pre-existing crisis plans, and practicing drills for potential threats. However, it appeared that the participants in this study were more likely to endorse those activities they considered an innate function of their role as the school leader such as notifying parents, contacting emergency services, and conducting group meetings. They were less likely to endorse activities implemented by other members of the crisis team, such as psychological first aid, debriefings, or other psychological or counseling services.


© 2015, Patricia Daughtry