School administrator discipline decision-making for students with emotional behavioral disorders

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Heddin, Charla S.
Patterson, Jean A.

Suspensions and expulsions for students with EBD are growing because many school administrators use this strategy as a quick option to manage student behavior. School district policies and procedures for the discipline of students become part of the school's organizational guidelines or operating process and can limit school administrators' options for alternative discipline decisions. This study took place in a US Midwestern state of Kansas and included 11 school administrators from elementary, middle, and high school levels in 8 districts. The research was conducted through an interview format with questions centered on the structure of the school, inclusion practices, classroom settings and size, the discipline policies and protocols for the district, and school administrators' decision-making when it came to discipline for
students who are EBD. Findings centered around five themes that emerged from the data: (a) the experience and training the administrators received to prepare them for handling students with EBD, (b) training the administrators provide for their staff to help them manage these students, (c) the importance of building positive relationships, (d) the variations to the discipline approaches administrators chose for students with EBD, and (e) the behaviors that would warrant a suspension and alternatives to suspension for these students. The theoretical framework focusing on single loop and double loop learning was used to draw conclusion. Building level administrators are expected to manage a wide range of situations from providing support to teachers, to providing behavior management to students. Some students have special needs that make behavior management more challenging. Implications of this research could impact policies and practices for behavior management at the building level as well administrator preparation programs at the college and university level.

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Thesis (Ed.D.)-- Wichita State University, College of Education, Dept. of Counseling, Educational Leadership, Education and School Psychology