Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Ella Benson


Growing numbers of suspensions and expulsions of students with disabilities (SWDs) have prompted school districts to explore nonpunitive alternatives to traditional suspension practices. The study school district implemented nonpunitive alternatives to suspension for SWDs, specifically students classified as emotionally disturbed (ED). SWDs are being suspended at a higher rate than their general education peers for the same violation. The purpose of this causal-comparative study was to examine differences in academic performance between students with emotional disabilities who received out of school suspensions and those who received nonpunitive consequences other than suspension for the same violation. To understand disruptive behavior, social learning theory provided the framework for this study. The sample included 20 high school students, grades 9-12, who were SWD eligible under the criteria of ED. Archival data included academic records, attendance records, and suspension records. To compare the means of the data, independent-samples t tests were used to analyze differences in grade point average between the groups. The results found that with nonpunitive alternatives, student attendance was improved; however, there was no significant difference found in academic performance between students who received nonpunitive consequences and those who received out of school suspension. Statistical power was limited due to the study sample size. Positive social change implications include providing initial research findings to the study school district and initiating the dialogue on reducing suspensions of SWDs to improve attendance, which may increase the potential for future academic success.