Publication Date


DOI (Digital Object Identifier)



Leadership and Higher Education


Doctor of Education (Ed.D)

Dissertation Chair

Nicol R. Howard, Ph.D.

Committee Members

Alayne Sullivan, Ph.D.

Tonia Causey-Bush, Ph.D.


administrators, African American students, discipline gap, disciplinary practices, discretionary discipline, educational trajectory


Educational Administration and Supervision | Educational Leadership


This qualitative phenomenological research study examined the effect of administrators’ disciplinary practices on the educational trajectory of African American students. Administrators collect information from teachers and other school employees to determine how students should be disciplined based on policy, rules, and procedures, all involving a level of discretionary decision making. Open-ended interview questions were used to gain information from 15 school site administrators holding the position of principal or assistant principal in a TK–12th-grade urban school district in southern California. The analyzed data centered on seven themes from the participants’ responses based on their lived experiences as school site administrators: (a) policies, rules, and procedures; (b) biases related to school discipline; (c) administrator discretion in discipline decisions; (d) participant impact on students; (e) participant impact on African American students; (f) influence of race on discipline decisions; and (g) culturally responsive school leadership. These findings could assist school site administrators and leaders with information to make equitable decisions that are applied to African American students to reduce the discipline gap in education between African American students and students of other racial groups. All stakeholders in schools come with predispositions and biases and each person must learn to set aside prejudices in order to construct a new learning paradigm. A positive school culture can influence a student’s performance and how the student behaves in school.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


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