Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Curriculum & Instruction

First Advisor

Shannon Collins

Second Advisor

Andrew Courtner

Third Advisor

Alexander Parks


From the enactment of the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 to the time of this study in 2019, school discipline has been a growing concern as more and more students fell victim to the negative impacts of zero-tolerance discipline policies commonly utilized in U.S. public schools. School discipline continues to be a mounting concern, as each year, more students are suffering the negative impacts of zero-tolerance discipline policies. There has been growing concern that students with special needs are particularly vulnerable due to the exclusionary nature of dealing with behavioral issues that are often a manifestation of the student’s disability. In response to the disaster of zero-tolerance discipline policies and the need for more therapeutic interventions, one rural, East Tennessee high school began implementing a restorative intervention model for dealing with discipline. This restorative approach to discipline was based on Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and was expected to decrease suspensions, improve school attendance, and increase students’ academic progress. The population of this study was students with disabilities who were enrolled in a rural, East Tennessee high school between the years of 2014-2019. The results of the study indicated that although there was no significant difference in the number of suspensions, the number of absences, or the GPA of students with disabilities, there was a slight improvement in all three areas.


High schools, Zero tolerance, Children with disabilities, School discipline