Supporting School-Law Enforcement Partnerships

Evidence from a Content Analysis of Memorandums of Understanding


  • Laura Welfare Virginia Tech University
  • Alison Bowers Virginia Tech University
  • Gerard Lawson Virginia Tech University



school resource officers, school discipline, law enforcement, memorandum of understanding, school safety


School-law enforcement partnerships benefit from well-written memorandums of understandings (MOUs) that have been collaboratively developed with input from school law enforcement agencies and school divisions. While many school-law enforcement partnerships report having MOUs, little is known about what information the MOUs provide. We conducted a content analysis of 73 MOUs from school-law enforcement partnerships in Virginia. We coded the MOUs to obtain information about MOU structure and format and the coverage of three topic areas: school resource officer (SRO) roles, SRO training, and SRO role in school discipline. Our analysis revealed most MOUs cover the three topic areas, but what the MOUs said about these topics varied tremendously. The findings suggest all those involved in MOU development might benefit from easily accessible, streamlined resources that outline what specific issues need to be addressed when creating MOUs and how to navigate nuanced discussions about the roles and training of SROs.


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Author Biographies

Laura Welfare, Virginia Tech University

Laura Welfare, PhD, is a Professor of Counselor Education at Virginia Tech. Her research includes a focus on K-12 student discipline practices and mental health. Email:

Alison Bowers, Virginia Tech University

Alison Bowers, PhD, is a Consulting Researcher in the School of Education at Virginia Tech. Her research focuses on educational research methodology, qualitative research methods, and literature review methods. Email:

Gerard Lawson, Virginia Tech University

Gerard Lawson, PhD, is a Professor of Counselor Education at Virginia Tech. His research interests include K-12 student discipline practices, crisis preparedness and response, and counselor wellness and resilience. Email:


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