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Ben Fisher awarded $1.7 million grant from U.S. Department of Education

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Ben Fisher, associate professor of Civil Society & Community Studies, has been awarded a $1.7 million grant by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences to study how security measures used by schools affect students, teachers and staff.

While a major priority for schools is to keep students and personnel safe, research that examines the academic, behavioral, and social outcomes of common security practices is scarce. Critics are concerned that school security measures may have especially negative effects on students of color and low-income students, Fisher and his collaborators say.

Researchers from the University of Louisville, Bowling Green State University, and George Mason University will work alongside Fisher on the project.

“This grant provides the opportunity to examine schools’ security environments at a broad, national level as well as in partnership with specific school districts,” Fisher says. “The work is exploratory, so this is a chance to dive into data and see what’s there. We hope our findings will ultimately be useful for schools trying to foster safe environments that are inclusive for all members of the school community.”

The research will be fully funded by the Department of Education grant. The award period extends until June 30, 2025.

Fisher’s work is focused on school criminalization, or the way the criminal legal system appears in schools. He explores issues like police in schools, school discipline, and schools’ use of a variety of security measures. Much of his research addresses racial equity with the goal of making schools more just and equitable places for students.