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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Dimpal Jain

First Committee Member

Ternisha Tevis

Second Committee Member

Hazel Mahone

Third Committee Member

Antonio Serna


This study explores African American women elementary school principals and how their race and gender impact their decision-making practices as they relate to suspension. Principals are faced with deciding how to implement a variety of policies, including curriculum and instruction, student safety and other district initiatives. Special attention is given to suspension because it impacts the average daily attendance funds that schools receive, and if students are not attending school due to suspension, their academic achievement suffers. In addition, there is an increasing national rate of suspension (Ferges, E. & Noguera, P, 2010) that is leading to heightened responsibilities as it relates to discipline. Sacramento County in California was selected as the site of this study due to its diverse population of elementary students. The research question for this study was: How does the intersection of race and gender impact the decisions related to suspensions for African American women elementary school principals? The theoretical framework used to answer this question is Black Feminist Thought (Collins, 2000). Through in-depth interviews, the women revealed how double consciousness and the dual oppression of race and gender impacted their decisions regarding suspension. Black feminist thought focuses on the marginalized status of African American women and places their experiences at the center of the discourse. With this in mind, the data yielded findings in the following areas 1) race, 2) race and gender, 3) suspension, 4) networking, and 5) mentoring. The intent of this study was to contribute to the field by researching African American women elementary school principals. The focus of suspension practices was selected because of the troubling relationship between academic achievement and suspension. The discourse on African American women in educational leadership has historically been silent, as both a gendered and racialized group (Dillard, 1995). This study attempted to expand the majority of research literature on educational leadership, which has primarily focused on the experiences of White men and women (Bell & Chase, 1993). In addition, this study contributes to suspension scholarship as it considers the elementary school context and the role of race and gender in suspension decisions.





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