Date of Award

5-8-2014

Document Type

Restricted Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Learning, Leadership, and Community

Department

Department of Educational Leadership, Learning, and Curriculum

Committee Chair

Christie Sweeney

Committee Member

Kathleen C. McCabe

Committee Member

Barbara Wauchope

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore: (a) what types of middle school student behaviors resulting in out-of-school suspension(OSS) were reported to the New Hampshire Department of Education as “Other”, (b) whether out-of-school suspensions categorized as “Other” resulted from actions mandated by policy or law, and(c) how the use of OSS varied among schools. The literature suggests that middle school students struggle with issues of establishing a sense of identity, and with issues of defying authority, leading to behaviors that result in their being suspended from school (Skiba, Peterson & Williams, 1997). The literature also indicates that OSS may have unintended consequences that negatively impact the lives of students. Those consequences include an increased risk of school dropout, and becoming involved in the juvenile justice system (Losen & Gillespie,2012). Data for this mixed-methods research were collected from documents(NH DOE, NH General Court and NH middle school handbooks), school administrator surveys, and school administrator interviews. Study outcomes indicated that 33 behaviors resulted in OSS reported as “Other.” Behaviors most often resulting in OSS reported as “Other” included inappropriate language, failing in-school suspension, and disruption. Additional findings illustrated that students who persistently misbehaved were likely to receive OSS reported as “Other,” and adult-directed misbehaviors, such as swearing at a teacher, were likely to result in OSS reported as “Other” after one infraction. This research indicated that use of OSS varied from school to school, and that behaviors resulting in out-of-school suspension reported as “Other” were not mandated by federal or state law, but were guided by school policy or based on the discretion of the administrator(s).

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