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Thesis/Dissertation Seminars

Dissertation Defense: A Study of the Influence of the Restorative Justice Model on Out-of-School Suspensions in a Large Urban School District

ED 305
June 28, 2018 @ 01:00 PM - 03:00 PM

Announcing the Final Examination of Brian E. Agard for the degree of Doctor of Education

The purpose of this quantitative study was to investigate whether the Restorative Justice (RJ) model influences the number of days that students are suspended out-of-school (OSS) or the number of OSS incidents in an urban school district in Central Florida. In addition, this study analyzed whether the Restorative Justice model had different impacts for the subgroups of students qualifying for free and reduced lunch (FRL), English Learners (EL), students qualifying for exceptional student education services (ESE), and three ethnic subgroups (White, Black, and Hispanic). The study focused on 6th grade, 7th grade, and 8th grade students for the seven school years from 2010-2011 to 2016-2017, but also included high school data from the same time frame as a way of mitigating the influence of factors unrelated to RJ. The primary data analysis strategies were descriptive statistics and visual analysis utilizing an interrupted time series design. The findings will inform decision makers whether the Restorative Justice model is having a positive influence on decreasing out-of-school suspension incidents and / or out-of-school suspension days.

This study was delimited to a single urban school district in Florida focusing on the full population of all students from the traditional 39 middle schools and 19 high schools in the district. The high school data was utilized as a de facto control group. The two dependent variables were the total number of OSS incidents (computed as a ratio per 100 students) and the total number of OSS days aggregated to the district level for both middle school and high school. The independent variable was the school year.

This study found that there were differences across most subgroups after RJ was implemented. The decreases in both the OSS incident rates per 100 students and the OSS days after the RJ model implementation were revealed when analyzing the graphs of the yearly OSS trends and tables of the means which displayed per-RJ versus post RJ-results. The data indicates that the RJ model appears to be a promising alternative to OSS suspensions.

Committee in charge: Jerry Johnson (Chair), Walter Doherty, Gordon Baldwin, James Larson