Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Danette Brown


The problem investigated was the disproportionate suspensions of African American students in Grades K to 5 in an elementary school in Virginia despite implementing positive behavioral interventions support (PBIS) intended to reduce this disparity. Exploring the implementation of PBIS is important because an increased understanding may lead to the development of additional supports and training that may reduce the short term suspensions of African American students. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore why implementing PBIS was not successful in reducing short term suspensions. Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory served as the conceptual framework. Two research questions focused on the perceptions of 9 teachers and 1 administrator on why implementing PBIS was not successful in reducing short term suspensions of African American students. Semistructured individual interviews were conducted. Data analysis involved open coding and the use of the NVivo 12 software program. Findings revealed impediments to PBIS implementation such as (a) student behavior issues, (b) relationship building issues, (c) lack of professional development training, (d) PBIS implementation challenges, and (e) inconsistent discipline. The study recommends alternative suspension and mentoring programs for African American students. Recommendations for future research suggests inclusion of additional school districts, a larger sample size, and interviewing students who have received short term suspensions. In the context of social change, the findings from this study may assist administrators and school districts with improving PBIS implementation that has the potential to increase the educational, and social outcomes for African American students.