Journal of Educational Research and Practice




This article addresses long-standing data from federal government agencies documenting 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 a local school district reflected similar troubling patterns of discipline referral and suspension. The purpose of this study was to determine if variables such as students’ ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and gender predicted the likelihood of receiving discipline referrals or being suspended at an affiliated charter high school in a local school district. Guided by Bandura’s social learning theory and Skinner’s behaviorism, this correlational explanatory quantitative study examined archival school discipline data for 2,536 students enrolled (n = 1,570 students who received at least one discipline referral or suspension) during the 2013–2014 school year at a local high school. Binomial logistic regression results showed that Black 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. These results suggest that by investigating school discipline patterns, disproportionality can be identified and later addressed in a manner that respects the unique needs of all students.