Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


School of Education


Research reveals that zero-tolerance policies lead to school suspensions of a disproportionate number of African American students in urban areas (Center for Civil [CCRR], 2015). Suspensions increase student failure rates and dropout likelihood and reduce the ability to graduate on time (Skiba, Arrendondo, & Williams, 2014). Studies have also shown that African American students are suspended three times more than their White American peers and two times more than their Latino American peers (CCRR, 2015). This has impelled federal and local government agencies, community organizations, and educators to question the effectiveness of punitive discipline policies that have marginalized black and brown students (Anderson & Ritter, 2017; CCRR, 2015). This self-study's purpose was to discover my role and impact as a superintendent while addressing punitive discipline practices. At Johnson School (pseudonym), out-of-school suspension is the primary consequence of student infractions, resulting in 43% of students suspended at least once during the 2015-2016 year and a suspension rate 500% greater than that of Indiana (Indiana Department, 2017a). I addressed the punitive discipline issues at Johnson School by changing school policies, analyzing discipline data, providing professional development, and modeling restorative practices. By addressing the exclusionary discipline issues, I emerged as a courageous and transformative leader. Courageous and transformative leadership are essential characteristics required to tackle the concerns of equity and justice in public education. These research findings were used to create the Framework for Courageous and Transformative Educational Leaders (CTEL), which supports district and school leaders in addressing issues of equity and justice.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.