Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Social Work

Major Professor

William R. Nugent

Committee Members

Mary Lynne Derrington, Karen Sowers, Matthew T. Theriot


Investigators at child welfare agencies investigate allegations of abuse and neglect by interviewing the identified child victim. Schools are a customary location where an investigator may conduct the interview. Each state in America has independently determined the guidelines that determine how interviews are conducted. A literature review produced 17 articles that analyzed past legal proceedings where the constitutionality of whether a child could be interviewed at school without a warrant, court order, exigent circumstances, or parental consent was challenged. A national review of statutes and policies identified the varying approaches that states have authorized to regulate school-based interviews. Public school principals in Tennessee completed two surveys regarding school-based interviews. The first survey questioned what perceptions and understandings principals have of policies that regulate child welfare interview procedures. The second survey asked what steps that school principals have put in place to facilitate interview requests. Each survey was completed by 109 school principals. Revealed in the statutes and policies review was that policies issued by the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS) did not contain clear details to inform principals how to respond to all types of interview requests. The results of a binary logistic analysis suggested that the Title I status of the school that principals responded on behalf of was a statistically significant predictor of what knowledge principals had of DCS policies. Differences were found to exist between high school and non-high school principals in the results of Fisher’s exact test for how principals reported to facilitate interview requests. A research study with a larger sample size representing the responses from more principals in Tennessee is needed before recommending best practice standards for school-based interviews.

Orcid ID

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