Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


School of Education


African-American students have historically been disproportionately represented in exclusionary discipline practices in our nation's public schools. Regardless of this fact, research has consistently shown that African-American students do not get into more trouble than students of other races, nor do they commit more severe infractions. Previous studies have explored factors such as student behaviors; low academic achievement; and socioeconomic status as reasons for the high rate of suspensions, yet when controlling for these factors race continues to make a difference in the imbalance of exclusionary discipline practices among African American students. "Implicit racial bias" has been associated as a contributing factor to the overrepresentation of African American students in exclusionary discipline. Nevertheless, few studies have directly examined the perception of race in discipline practices from the perspective of students, their caregivers, and the educators involved in the disciplinary process. This study examines race and discipline from the perspectives of ten African-American middle school students and their caregivers, and ten educators from a large Midwest suburban school district. The results of this study provide several conflicting perceptions of the fairness in discipline practices towards African American students in this middle school. The implications of these perceptions are discussed, and suggestions are made for future direction and research.