Towards a Critical Race Discourse Framework for Addressing Discipline Disparities for African American Students Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Keeling, Dena
    • Affiliation: School of Education, Educational Leadership Graduate Program
  • Across the nation, African American students are suspended at rates well above those of Caucasian students and disproportionate to their representation in the total school population (Skiba, Eckes, & Brown, 2009). The pattern of disproportionate suspension rates for African American students has persisted despite over 40 years of research. Although researchers have examined other factors, race is consistently correlated with disproportionate discipline sanctions, particularly for African American students. Solórzano and Yasso (2002) stated that racism and other forms of subordination permeate school structures and processes and that discourse maintains the structures and processes of inequity. The purpose of this study was to explore subtle racial bias as an explanation for racial discipline disparities, through an examination of the discourse of educational leadership and policy in the context of school discipline, and to utilize the analysis towards the end of developing a framework to address the disproportionate suspension of African American students. The participants in this study are from two middle schools, with disproportionate suspension rates for African American students, in one urban school district in North Carolina. Semi-structured interviews with seven teachers and two administrators, one from each school, along with district discipline policy serve as the data sources for this critical race discourse analysis. A conceptual framework guides this qualitative study. The framework demonstrates the relationship between subtle racial bias, the discourse of educational leadership and discipline policy, and the enactment of racial discipline disparities for African American students. The study investigates subtle racial bias in school discipline within four domains, based on the themes and tenets of critical race theory. The researcher found that the discourse of the district discipline policy and the school administrators in this study, aligned with each of the domains of the conceptual framework, suggesting a relationship among subtle racial bias, racialized discourse and ideologies and the enactment of discipline disparities for African American students. The study adds to the educational research and the practice of educational leadership by presenting a framework for analyzing subtle racial bias in school discipline and addressing discipline disproportionality for African American students.
Date of publication
Resource type
  • Glazier, Jocelyn
  • Thompson Dorsey, Dana
  • Houck, Eric
  • Roulhac, Gwen
  • Watlington, Tony
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2018

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