Date of Award

1996

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Education

First Advisor

Kofi Lomotey

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore the role of the principals in predominantly African American urban middle schools with low suspension rates. The basic research questions were: How do the perceptions of principals in predominantly African American urban middle schools that have low suspensions rates compare with perceptions of other principals in predominantly African American urban middle schools; and what alternatives to suspensions do principals use in predominantly African-American urban middle schools that have low suspension rates. I approached this study using a mixed methodology strategy, using quantitative and qualitative techniques. Survey items of 54 principals from seven urban middle schools in Louisiana showed significant differences in the way principals responded to various survey items. Four independent variables had significant effects on dependent variables. The four independent variables were: principal's teaching experience, ethnicity, number of years served in the same school and the size of the school. Four principals from predominantly African-American urban middle schools were selected for case studies. They were observed and interviewed in the fall of 1995. They were compared on the basis of how they perceived and interpreted the district's discipline policy, how they perceived and interpreted the district's suspension policy and how they administered discipline and suspension in their schools. The findings indicate that principals in these schools perceived their district suspension policy as a guide. They followed the district suspension policy but with a contingent approach to discipline, making changes depending on the circumstances. The findings also reveal that the four principals had salient characteristics that were prevalent across the four cases studies. All the principals were reluctant to suspend students, and therefore used other alternatives to suspensions, supported teachers and involved parents in school activities. They also cared and were concerned about students, had an established routine which they followed consistently and had maintained a structured environment in which there were few opportunities for misbehaving. Principals' responses to the interview questions lead to implications for theory development, for practitioners and for further research.

ISBN

9780591133684

Pages

212

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