Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Shelly Arneson


Federal government agency reports have documented concerns regarding the use of school discipline and suspension indicating that Black students are referred for discipline and/or suspended at a higher rate than students of other ethnicities. Available data from the local school district involved in this study reflected similar troubling patterns of discipline referral and suspension. The purpose of this study was to determine if variables such as ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and gender predict the likelihood of receiving discipline referrals or being suspended at an affiliated charter high school in the local school district. Guided by Bandura's social learning theory, this correlational explanatory quantitative study examined archival school discipline data for 1,570 students who received at least one discipline referral or suspension during the 2013-2014 school year at the local high school. Binomial logistic regression results showed that Black male students from low socioeconomic backgrounds were significantly more likely to be suspended compared to other ethnicities. Negative binomial regression analysis indicated students who were Black, male, and were from low socioeconomic backgrounds were at significantly greater risk of receiving a referral than other ethnicities. A professional development training was designed to provide school personnel with culturally-responsive, preventative discipline strategies that meet the needs of all students including those who are at highest risk for punitive discipline and suspension. By equipping school personnel in this and similar school communities with culturally-responsive discipline strategies aimed at meeting the needs of all students, diverse student populations are likely to experience greatly needed positive social change exemplified by improved social, behavioral, and academic outcomes.

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