Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Education-Higher Education (M.Ed.)

Degree Program

College of Education

First Advisor

Elizabeth Stolle

Academic Year



Schools throughout the country have relied on suspension and expulsion to create ‘safer’ schools, free from harm and distraction. This trend of reliance on suspension started in the mid-1990s, reaching its peak in 2011. This happened as a result of the implementation zero-tolerance discipline policies nearly nationwide. Zero-tolerance called for specific punishments for clearly outlined unsafe behaviors to start, but as years progressed, zero-tolerance in the form of suspension became a catch all for all types of behavior. In this shift toward suspension as a dominate form for behavior correction, Black students have been suspended at an alarming rate in comparison with their White counterparts. The degree to which suspension takes place is nearly three times the rate for Black students in comparison to white students. Compounding this, when students are suspended from school, the likelihood of interaction with he juvenile and criminal justice system roughly doubles. This is problematic but given the history of inequality that has existed in America across racial groups, this demands attention.

There are several recommendations and strategies in this project, which seek to address this problem. This research looks in several directions to answer the challenge of responding to this inequity. Restorative Justice in place of suspension serves as a model for reducing the need and use of suspension for classroom misbehaviors. Further, school discipline policies demand revision to shift the focus from discipline and removal to restoring the community that was harmed by student misbehavior. Finally, there is professional development and training for school counselors to share restorative practices with their school staffs. Through these strategies, the reliance on suspension for addressing student misbehavior will recede.

Included in

Education Commons