Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Educational Policy and Leadership

Content Description

1 online resource (v, 115 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Kathryn Schiller

Committee Members

Kathryn Schiller, Kristen Wilcox, Hal Lawson, Kathie Spring


discipline, disproportionality, leadership, School discipline, High school students, School improvement programs, Discrimination in school discipline, Student suspension, Rewards and punishments in education, School administrators

Subject Categories

Educational Administration and Supervision


Using secondary data from a NY Kids comparative case study conducted in 2017-2018 of two positive outlier high schools, the purpose of this dissertation was to learn more about their discipline practices and the role secondary school leaders play in shaping those discipline systems. Two positive outlier high schools were studied, as they were identified as achieving better than expected graduation outcomes for youth of color, but also have proportionate, or close to proportionate, rates of exclusionary discipline for the same population of students. Interview transcripts from the larger study as well as additional school documents (i.e., code of conduct, mission/vision statement, district goals) were reviewed and coded through the lenses of social-ecological and complexity theory to answer the following research questions: What role(s) do district and building leaders take on and what practices do they engage in within discipline systems in two positive outlier schools? How are efforts to promote equitable discipline outcomes framed by leaders in these schools? The findings of this dissertation indicate that neither positive outlier high school was using a systematic, tiered intervention of supports to address student behavior. However, despite this, both schools have proportionate rates of exclusionary discipline. District and building leaders at both high schools engage in common leadership practices that have led to the cultivation of a supportive school environment that implicitly addresses academic and behavioral inequities. Findings from this dissertation yielded valuable information regarding how leaders lead in their organizations to promote equitable academic and behavioral outcomes for students.