Date of Award

Spring 3-9-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. Cherie Gaines

Second Advisor

Dr. Bethany Powers

Third Advisor

Dr. Lindsey Cochran


Since the formation of schools, schools have developed ways of understanding discipline and ensuring a safe and orderly environment. Governmental personnel began to influence local school policies beginning in 1989, with United States President Ronald Reagan’s War on Drugs campaign. This led to the creation and development of zero-tolerance policies. School districts implemented zero-tolerance policies, which helped lead to the overrepresentation of discipline outcomes (i.e., punishment) among certain demographics. Following the Critical Race Theory theoretical framework, I interviewed 12 participants to determine their perceptions of discipline policies and the overrepresentation of discipline outcomes in urban settings. My participants included elementary principals and teachers across two large urban school districts across Tennessee. After interviewing 12 participants, I determined two things: elementary school teachers perceived the success of discipline practices and outcomes based on support from their administrators and whether teachers believed schools were considered safe, and elementary school principals perceived successful discipline policies and their role in discipline as their ability to support students during their school career and to give support to teachers so that teachers could support students. From the teachers’ perspective, I determined that teachers viewed successful discipline policies depending on support provided by administrators and a safe environment. From the principals’ perspective, I determined that principals viewed successful discipline policies depending on their ability to support students and to support teachers.


zero-tolerance, discipline outcomes, elementary education, Critical Race Theory