Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
Heather A. Mbaye
Exclusionary discipline in school contributes to gender and racial disproportionality in the juvenile justice system and marginalizes African American girls. Using the social justice and rational choice theories as the foundation, the purpose of this case study was to explore the relationship between the criminalization of behavior in schools, racial bias, and gender stereotypes contribute to the overrepresentation of the school to prison pipeline in Virginia. The central research question focused on the relationship between the criminalization of behavior in schools, racial bias, and gender stereotypes on the overrepresentation of African American girls in the school to prison pipeline. Employing a qualitative case study design, data were collected through semi-structured interviews with 8 African American women (ages 20-30) and surveys from 12 educators. Other data included school discipline and juvenile justice reports from the Virginia Department of Education and Office of Juvenile Justice. The interview data were coded and analyzed using matrix and thematic analysis. Three findings emerged from the thematic analysis from document data. First, participants perceive diversionary programs, community partnership and restorative justice programs create safe and positive learning environments. Second, there are opportunities for policymakers to use their influence to promote social equity. Finally, zero tolerance policies are ineffective. The positive social change implications from this study include recommendations to policymakers to implement restorative justice programs to ensure that all students learn in a positive environment. These actions will benefit all students in public schools and decrease racial disparities in schools and the juvenile justice system.