University of Missouri - Saint Louis

The Graduate School


An oral examination in defense of the dissertation for the degree

Doctor of Philosophy in Education

Jennifer Hernandez
M.A. in Educational Administration, December, 2010, University of Missouri-St. Louis
B.S. in Special Education, December, 2000, Southern Illinois University- Edwardsville

Education Detained: The Effects of the Power Relationship Between the School Resource Officer and the Administrator in public school settings.



The qualitative data collected in the research were designed to answer the question, what are the effects of the power relationship between the School Resource Officer (SROs) and the Administrator in public school settings? Five administrators and five SROs from large Mid-Western Suburban school districts were interviewed for information regarding their role in the school and the collaborative structure in which they work with one another regarding student discipline. A review of current educational case law and state and federal legislation were compared to the participant responses to analyze the data in the framework of Critical Race Theory and Critical Legal Studies. There are seven key findings that surfaced from the data. Interview responses, current legislation and educational law have demonstrated the following concerns in the large Mid-Western Suburban school districts in which the participants were interviewed; (1) there is no set protocol for accessing the SRO in a public school, (2) there is no known authority structure for SROs and administrators in which to adhere, (3) SROs are not asked or required to document their work outside of arrest records that are sealed if the accused is a juvenile, (4) there is no known school policy for the administrators interviewed to reflect the role of the SRO, (5) there is a lack of legislation and case law on the role of the SRO in public school settings, (6) SROs collaborate with administrators to maintain a safe environment for learning, and (7) SROs collaborate with students as an educator and counselor at times and are disciplinarians in student misconduct or illegal behavior. The question of the impact of the SRO in the schools during a typical school day is the crux of this research. Police presence in the schools, as indicated in this research, questions whether the school is utilizing law enforcement to maintain a safe learning environment or perpetuate a prison culture in our public schools. With no set role for the SRO with clear limits for interaction with students regarding student discipline, no transparency in the work of the SRO, no accountability measures for the SRO, no clear protocol for the staff to access the SRO, and no school administrative authority over the SRO; the ability for public schools, with police presence, to replicate a prison culture where students are controlled versus facilitation of learning is possible.


Date: November 4, 2013

Time: 2 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Place: UMSL TLC Conference Room


Defense of Dissertation Committee


Matthew Davis, Ph.D. (Advisor)

Carl Hoagland, Ph.D.


Brenda Bredemeier, Ph.D.

Claude Weathersby, Ph.D.