Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Education for Social Justice

Dissertation Committee

Dr. Joseph Lathan, PhD, Chair Dr. Elizabeth Butler, PhD, Member


School to Prison Pipeline, Preschool to Prison Pipeline, Exclusionary Discipline, Exclusionary Practices, Suspensions, Discipline Gap, Antiracist Discipline, Implicit Bias, Classroom Management, K12 School Leadership, School Administrators, Principals, Black Students, Black Parents, Public School System Change, Multi-Tiered Systems of Support, K12 School Policy, Urban Education, Equity in Education, Restorative Justice, Social Justice Leadership, Culturally Responsive School Leadership, Equity Literacy Framework, Verve


The overrepresentation of Black students in exclusionary practices in public K–12 education, such as detention, suspension, expulsion, and misplacement into special education, contributes to the school-to-prison pipeline (STPP). This phenomenon leads to truancy, academic failure, and involvement in the juvenile justice system. In contrast, the school-to-scholar pipeline (STSP) has an inverse relationship with the STPP and views students as scholars in training, ultimately linking them to careers or college. Research has indicated that school administrators’ mindsets, along with teacher bias, play a significant role in perpetuating exclusionary practices and racial disparities (Gullo & Beechum, 2020; Skiba, Chung et al., 2014). The gap identified for this study was that although the problem of differential treatment based on race is a central issue in criminal justice research, it has not been given the same attention in the study of school exclusionary practices. The descriptive qualitative study was framed by culturally responsive school leadership (CRSL; Khalifa et al., 2016); equity literacy framework (ELF; Gorski & Swalwell, 2023) and Black psychological conceptualizations of behavior, including “verve” (Boykin, 1983). I used two sampling methods (i.e., purposeful convenience and snowballing) to select 10 school administrator participants and seven parent participants, who reported on the exclusionary and inclusive practices impacting Black students in a restorative antiracist school district. Data from semistructured interviews (n = 17), data analysis, and researcher memos answered the questions: (a) What are the perceptions of middle/high school administrators located in a large urban restorative school district regarding why Black students are overidentified for behavioral issues connected with exclusionary practices?; and (b) Based on the school administrators’ perceptions, what strategies are effective in reducing the overidentification of Black students for exclusionary practices? Some key findings were challenges in disrupting exclusionary practices due to a lack of connection with students, families, and the community; a preference for immediate consequences over restorative practices; bias and issues with classroom management; and inadequate funding and resource allocation. One recommendation is a systems approach with effective communication for equity monitoring and analyzing school data. Participants expressed negative sentiments toward the STPP and hopefulness toward the STSP. Teachers were seen as crucial in determining to which pipeline students are assigned based on their beliefs or biases.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access



Available for download on Saturday, May 09, 2026