The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Educational Administration and Leadership, K-12: Ed.D.


Educational Administration and Higher Education


School of Education

First Advisor

Dr. John Eller

Second Advisor

Dr. Frances Kayona

Third Advisor

Dr. Kim Hiel

Fourth Advisor

Dr. James Johnson

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Principals Discipline and Culturally Responsive School Leadership



The use of discipline within the school setting dates back as long as schools have been in existence (Brown & Payne, 1988). There is a wide array of discipline that is enforced from the use of corporal punishment to more modern practices of suspension and expulsion (Middleton, 2008; Noltemeyer et al., 2012). The use of such disciplinary practices has resulted in unintended consequences directly correlated to race, disability status and income; with an overrepresentation of students of color, students receiving special education services and low-income students receiving higher levels of discipline than their peers (Skiba et al, 2011).

Patterns of disproportionality are well documented and begin to emerge as early as preschool and are likely to continue throughout high school, with lasting impacts both academically and economically (U.S. Department of Education, 2016). There is a wide breadth of research outlining the extensive nature of the overuse of exclusionary discipline, such as suspensions and expulsions within the school setting and the long-term impacts associated with negative outcomes (Girvan et al., 2017; Gregory & Fergus, 2017; Skiba et al., 2003). The ongoing and complex nature of school discipline has been a challenge for many school leaders as patterns of disproportionality continue to persist and the educational gaps continue to widen (DeMatthews, 2016b).

Consequently, additional research is needed to examine the role of the school leader in relation to the outcomes, that have been formulated, related to discipline on a national and state level. Research is needed to explore why patterns of exclusion continue to persist in educational settings within Minnesota schools and how they can be addressed by school leaders to further investigate the discipline process and the underlying root causes of disproportionality.

The study was intended to understand school leaders’ practices regarding discipline decision-making and further evaluate if school leaders were using attributes of Culturally Responsive School Leadership when making decisions related to discipline. A quantitative research approach was used to collect data using Khalifa’s (2018) framework of Culturally Responsive School Leadership to determine the presence or absences of the attributes.

Research results revealed there was an ongoing theme throughout the findings that was connected to the level of training that principals had, related to Culturally Responsive School Leadership and the impact on leadership practices overall. There were factors, related to training that principals reported, which impacted how the framework was being used and implemented systemically. Areas such as, teacher development, implementation of the framework and understanding and misalignment of practice were some elements that emerged from the research.



Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world- Nelson Mandela

I want to thank my committee members, Dr. Eller, Dr. Johnson, Dr. Kayona and Dr. Hiel for supporting my work and guiding me through this process from start to finish. Your feedback was invaluable, and I am forever grateful and honored to have had the opportunity to work with all of you as you guided me through this journey.

Thank you to my classmates from Cohort 10, Dr. Chris Rogers, Dr. Gwen Anderson, Ms. Anne Graner, Ms. Josie Koivisto, Dr. Lauren Whiteford, Dr. Lisa Whitney, Ms. Tamuriel Grace and Mr. Zach Dingmann. You have supported and encouraged me throughout this journey, and I am grateful for the friendships I have formulated with all of you.

My sincerest gratitude to my family. They provided me the strength to move forward and the support when I needed it the most throughout this process. Without them it would not have been possible to complete my dissertation. To my aunt and uncle, Grace and Fred Katwalo, who have opened their home up to me and my children and have spent countless hours watching them to allow me time to focus and complete my writing. To my children, Alana and Avery, my biggest cheerleaders and inspiration to continue to stay focused and centered on my work. To my parents, Dr. Peter and Monica Nayenga, I am my father and mother’s legacy. They have taught me the value of hard work and the importance of education. You have inspired me beyond what I am able to express and have carried so much on your shoulders. You have endured what many of us could not have survived and have done so with grace and humility. I am thankful for all that you have taught me.



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