Discipline, Safety and Learning: What is the Impact of Police Officers in Public Schools?
Emily Weisburst

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



University of Texas

Primary Discipline

In recent years, public schools have increasingly employed police to manage safety and discipline. The increase in police presence within schools is likely to impact school security, disciplinary management and cultural environments. In turn, these consequences may have large impacts on different student populations. This research project will address whether school police have an impact on student attendance, school discipline, academic performance and school safety. Particular attention will be paid to which schools and student groups may be most likely to be affected by additional police presence. The analysis for this project will use student level administrative data in Texas from 1998-2013 linked to information on federal grant receipts for police in school districts. The research design will compare outcomes for school districts that were awarded federal grant funds for police in schools with school districts that applied for a federal grant but were denied funds. This comparison is constructive because it compares districts that are interested in increasing police presence in their schools, and therefore are likely to be similar in their disciplinary culture and goals. In the federal grant data for Texas school districts, several of the organizations applying for grant funding are accepted in some years and rejected in other years. This overlap of grant recipients and rejects suggests that a comparison of these student and school outcomes between these groups will be informative and provide an estimate of the impact of police presence on public schools.
About Emily Weisburst
Emily Weisburst is an Economics Ph.D. student at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research focuses on topics in Labor Economics, including education, criminal justice and workplace productivity. Emily received her undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College in Economics. Prior to graduate school, Emily worked as an associate at L.E.K. Consulting and then as a research associate at Harvard Business School in the Finance Department. While at the UT Austin, Emily has worked as a research associate and liaison for the RAND Corporation and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, pursuing research on Developmental Education in Community Colleges in Texas. This past year, Emily has been working as a Staff Economist at the Council of Economic Advisors in the Executive Office of the President in Washington, D.C., with a portfolio focused on the intersection of economics and criminal justice policy.

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