Date of Award

Summer July 2015

Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Marta P. Baltodano

Second Advisor

Martha McCarthy

Third Advisor

Jill P. Bickett


The purpose of this study is to understand how African-American males enrolled in middle school in Los Angeles County experienced and understood the application of the California educational code regarding discipline. Disproportionate numbers of African-American students are being suspended and expelled from public schools. This overreliance on exclusionary punishment has led to the School-to-Prison Pipeline, and the statistics related to suspension rates from school mirror that of the criminal justice system. This study captures the voices of students who are consistently referred to the office by classroom teachers in order to understand how they perceive and articulate their experiences with the school disciplinary process and how those experiences impact their academic and personal lives. Findings indicate that participants want to do well in school. The participants described many of the behaviors that triggered an office referral as trivial, such as being tardy to class, talking, or not doing their work. When their infractions were more serious, students stated that they acted out because the teacher had disrespected or antagonized them. More than anything, participants want teachers to listen to them and to respect them, and they want to be active participants in their learning.

Included in

Education Commons