School of Education
Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)
John C. Bartlett
cultural competence, discretionary offense, exclusionary discipline, suspension
Education | Educational Leadership
Bonar, Philip, "Impact of Cultural Competence Professional Development on the Suspension Referrals of Minority Students" (2021). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 3050.
Racial disparity in discipline practices is a concern in public schools across the United States. Racial disparities in exclusionary discipline practices (EDP), such as in-school and out-of-school suspensions of minority students, have been well documented. The purpose of this causal-comparative quantitative study was to examine if a relationship exists between cultural competence (CC) professional development training of faculty (administrators and professional teachers) and the suspension referral counts of Latinx and African American students in an affluent, award-winning public school system in a Mid-Atlantic state. Discipline referral data was collected from the Office of Planning and Evaluation to run a Mann-Whitney U test to analyze the data from the random sample of 140 faculty. The results of the test revealed no statistical difference among measures of the independent variables between groups of faculty serving in schools having CC training and faculty serving in schools that did not have CC training. This type of training that would support faculty in educating and managing students in diverse classrooms is not a ‘one and done’ learning experience. The CC training should be ongoing and embedded in the philosophy of the school. Additional wrap-around supports such as tiered interventions that support positive relationships between staff and students and establishing equity teams with school equity audits would support the training of educators and may reduce the disparity in EDP. Several recommendations for further research are shared and include using a larger sample size to help generalize the research, parsing out administrators, and examining faculty age, race, and experience on minority suspension referrals.