Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education

First Advisor

Dr. Robert Betz

Second Advisor

Dr. James Lowe

Third Advisor

Dr. Louis Junker


This study was designed to examine the efforts of a desegregated urban public school district to reduce the incidence of student suspension over a three-year period. More specifically, it examined the efforts and results five middle school staffs achieved in reducing the incidence of student suspension from school as a method of dealing with disruptive behavior.

Category I suspensions, i.e., suspensions resulting from disruptive behavior not requiring legal action, constituted the data base for the study. These data were obtained from central office files maintained by schools for the three-year period 1972-75 following a directive issued by the superintendent of schools to reduce suspensions. Hypotheses were formulated to determine the effects of the directive especially as it was implemented over five desegregated junior high schools. Of special interest was how the performance objective affected groups of students when gender, year, race and school were statistically manipulated.

A four-way factorial analysis research design was used to analyze 14 hypotheses. Seven of the 14 hypotheses were judged to be significant at, or beyond, the P =^.05 level of significance. Significant differences were discovered regarding: 1) interschool difference in the suspension rate over the three-year period, 2) a difference between schools in total number of suspensions, 3) a difference between year and school in total number of suspensions, 4) a difference between sexes when comparing total number of suspensions, 5) a difference between school and race in total number of suspensions, 6) a difference between school and sex in total number of suspensions, and 7) a difference between sex and race when comparing the total number of suspensions.

No significant differences were discovered for analyses of 1) race as a main effect, 2) year and sex, 3) year and race, 4) year, school and sex, 5) year, school and race, 6) year, sex and race, and 7) school, sex and race.

Analyses of data indicated that suspension rates were significantly different for the three years of study. The highest rate of suspension, collectively, for all five schools was in 1973-74, the first year the performance objective was implemented.

In each of the three years, Oakwood Junior High School had the highest rate of suspension and South Junior High School the lowest. By the same token, Oakwood had the greatest drop in suspension from 1973-74 to 1974-75, a drop of 5.00. It is important to note that while Oakwood maintained the highest suspension rate throughout the three-year period, it was the most successful school in implementing the performance objective to reduce suspensions during the second year of the three-year period.

Milwood Junior High School, the only school to show an increase in suspensions during the second year, maintained the most consistent rate of suspension during the three-year period, followed by Northeastern. The only school maintaining a steady decrease in suspension throughout the three-year period was South Junior High School. In addition, South had the greatest overall decrease in suspension rates from 1973-76, a decrease of 4.51, significant at the P =<.05 level. Although Oakwood maintained the highest rate of suspension throughout the three-year period, Oakwood was second only to South, in overall decrease in suspension rate, a decrease of 4.18, significant again at the P =<.05 level.

The greatest drop in suspensions was found in the second year of the three-year period, 1974-75. A possible explanation for this phenomenon is that while the performance objective was given high priority in 1973-74, total implementation within each school building did not take effect until 1974-75. Possible factors influencing the varying suspension rates were discussed. It was noted that in a post-hoc analysis of this type, cause and effect were impossible to determine.

Final analyses revealed that among the five schools there was a difference in the implementation of the performance objective in the number of suspensions of white compared to non-white students and in the suspension of male compared to female students. Males were suspended at a significantly higher rate than females. Non-white females were found to be suspended more frequently than white females. While the total number of non-white suspensions was less than the number of white student suspensions, there was a higher proportion of non-white suspensions based on their total enrollment in the schools.

It was concluded that implementation of a performance objective can possibly take as much as a year following its issuance. In addition, evidence was presented to indicate that a reduction in suspensions can be brought about through efforts of school staffs acting in harmony.

Conclusions regarding effects of gender and race point to an unevenness in the handling of minority and male students by different junior high school staffs. While many reasons were hypothesized for the variance, no one factor was believed to be causative. A brief case study of one school's efforts to reduce suspension was presented as a model for consideration.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access