Harper, Ilene Brown (2017-09). High School Leaders' Perceptions on Disproportionality in School Discipline among African-American Students. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • National trends indicate that systemic disparities in school discipline are evident by race. Students of color, for instance, are more likely than White students to be suspended from school. School-level policies and practices, as well as conditions in the community contribute to the disparate impact of school discipline among African- American students. In Texas, African-American students are disproportionately more likely to be removed from the classroom for disciplinary reasons. While the federal government has provided guidance on how positive discipline policies can help create safer learning environments without relying heavily on suspensions and expulsions, the problem is very complex in that there are many factors working against African- American students. With the need for discipline to be directly aligned with instructional strategies and classroom expectations, there is a demand for more research-based practices to address student behaviors from a culturally relevant perspective. Furthermore, acknowledging that more than 40 years of research exist documenting the problem, there is very limited qualitative research on effective practices. Through this phenomenological study, I provide insight to the school leaders' perceptions of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and Culturally Responsive Instructional Leadership (CRIL) in response to disproportionality in school discipline of African- American students. Likewise, a seven-step model for implementing PBIS with CRIL to address disproportionality in school discipline of African-American students is presented for practitioners.

ETD Chair

  • Irby, Beverly  Regents Professor and Senior Associate Dean; Marilyn Kent Byrne Endowed Chair for Student Success

publication date

  • September 2017