Campus Access Only

All rights reserved. This publication is intended for use solely by faculty, students, and staff of University of the Pacific. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, now known or later developed, including but not limited to photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author or the publisher.

Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Delores McNair

First Committee Member

Harriett Arnold

Second Committee Member

Antonio Serna

Third Committee Member

Ricky Gutierrez


The threat of school violence plagues high school campuses nationwide. To thwart violent student behavior and create a safe school environment, schools often utilize punitive disciplinary practices. These practices, often referred to as zero-tolerance policies, essentially transform schools into law enforcement models focused on punishment and the exclusion of students from the educational setting. Conversely, restorative justice practices, specifically Circles, provide students with an opportunity to resolve conflicts through dialoguing, problem-solving, building relationships and reflecting on their behavior. Used in conjunction with traditional disciplinary practices, Circles can provide schools with an additional tool to teach appropriate behavior. Currently, there is limited research examining the impact of the Circle process on student behavior and school climate relative to student discipline. The purpose of this study was to examine the use of restorative justice practices, specifically Circles to address behavioral infractions among high school students. The findings of this study add to the current literature surrounding school disciplinary theory and practice and provide school administrators with another option for addressing student behavior. A qualitative case study approach was utilized to examine the impact of Circles at one high school. Thirteen participants were interviewed during a week long visit to West Valley High School (identified by pseudonym). Interviews responses were transcribed, analyzed and coded into themes representing the experiences of the participants in the Circle process. The data for this study revealed the following research findings: (a) the school employed a restorative approach to discipline which included the use of Circles as a complement to traditional disciplinary procedures, (b) the Circle process at WVHS led to the elimination of further behavioral infractions among Circle participants, (c) the Circle process provided students with increased opportunities for conflict resolution and learning, (d) the Circle process provided a forum for students' to discuss personal issues unrelated to the original conflict, and (e) the Circle process had a positive impact on student behavior and the participants' perception of school climate relative to student discipline.





To access this thesis/dissertation you must have a valid email address and log-in to Scholarly Commons.

Find in PacificSearch Find in ProQuest



If you are the author and would like to grant permission to make your work openly accessible, please email


Rights Statement

Rights Statement

In Copyright. URI:
This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).