School safety and student well-being are crucial to the social, emotional, and academic development of young people. Simply put, students learn better when they feel safe. Many districts have turned to school security measures that offer visible signs or outward appearances of safety; however, other approaches — those that create positive and inclusive school climates — both support students’ well-being and more effectively result in safe learning environments.

This mixed-methods case study examines two urban school districts in the United States. After public calls to end policing in schools, leaders in these districts reformed both policy and practice to support student safety. This study sought to answer the following research questions through interviews, surveys, and in-person observations:

  1. How do district and school leaders make decisions about issues related to school safety practices (for example, School Resource Officer (SRO) programs)?
  2. What programs, policies, and/or practices are used to support student well-being and school safety in addition to or in place of SRO programs?
  3. How do students and school staff understand and experience school safety and well-being?
  4. How are students and school staff experiencing changes in school safety practices?
  5. What do students and school staff perceive as the policies and/or practices most needed to improve school safety and student well-being?

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