Degree Name

Education Specialist (EdS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

David E. Bartz


Too often in schools across the country students and teachers have felt unsafe. Students and teachers have been threatened physically, verbally, and have experienced violence. Besides creating fears, violence in schools has diverted energy and resources from instruction. The researcher believed that based on recent national happenings regarding school violence, it was important to assess the school environment at Mary Miller Junior High School to identify if any problems existed regarding safety at school. It is not surprising that one of the National Education Goals for the year 2000 was to establish safe, disciplined, and drug-free schools that offer an environment conducive to learning.

This field study, conducted during the spring of 1998, gathered data concerning perceptions of students, staff, and parents of Mary Miller Junior High School in Georgetown-Ridge Farm Community Unit School District # 4 in Georgetown, Illinois. The research questions were:

1. What are the perceptions of the students, staff, and parents regarding conflict and school climate at Mary Miller Junior High School?

2. What are the perceptions of the students, staff, and parents regarding the motives for conflicts (disagreements) at Mary Miller Junior High School?

3. What are the perceptions of the students, staff, and parents regarding various levels of conflict at Mary Miller Junior High School?

A survey, based on a review of national issues from literature pertaining to school climate and conflicts within schools, was designed by the researcher to determine perceptions regarding conflict and school climate, the motives for conflict (disagreements), and the frequency of various levels of conflict. The researcher administered the survey instrument to staff members at their monthly meeting. Staff members were given instructions and then monitored the students as they completed their survey instruments during their home room period. Survey instruments were given to the students to take home to their parents. The students returned the parent survey instruments to their home room teachers.

The responses of the survey instrument were entered into a computer data file. Filters were generated from the gathered data, and results were displayed. Descriptive analysis using frequencies and percentages were used to present the results. An analysis of the data was presented through the use of tables and was accompanied by narratives.

Results indicated the students felt safe from violence but expressed a concern relating to verbal abuse. Although fights sometimes occurred, weapons were of little concern. Students, parents, and staff could not agree on whether students could handle conflicts peacefully. The leading cause for conflict was rumors or gossip. The perceptions of students, staff, and parents differed regarding the various levels of conflict.

It was recommended that peer mediation and conflict resolution programs be strengthened. A monthly Discipline Committee meeting was suggested for staff and administration. It was further recommended that a district-wide Ownership in Education Committee be organized with student, staff, administration, and parents to meet several times each year to evaluate the policies and expectations of student behavior.