Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Education (Ph.D)


Administrative and Instructional Leadership

First Advisor

Joan Birringer-Haig

Second Advisor

Stephen Kotok,

Third Advisor

Catherine DiMartino


It is important for school leaders to understand how students who identify as belonging to specific races, ethnicities, or cultures experience school climate. The purpose of this quantitative study was to investigate the perceptions of school leaders on their culturally responsive leadership (CRSL) practices and discipline actions. This study focused on the perceptions of 142 school leaders (Principals and Superintendents) who work in public schools in New York State. The sample consisted of school building and district leaders who work in elementary, middle, and high school settings in urban, suburban, and rural communities. The study was conducted utilizing the Culturally Responsive School Leader (CRSL) Survey, an anonymous self-reporting school building and district leader online survey, to gather information about principal and superintendents’ perceptions of their CRSL practices and discipline actions in their schools and districts. This study addressed the need identified by Voight (2013) stating WestEd’s research findings suggests that addressing school-climate issues, including the gaps in how different student groups experience school climate, may be an important and complementary strategy for reducing achievement gaps. Furthermore, that nurturing school environments that are safer and supportive for all students, and make all students feel part of a larger community, is an important step toward education equity and a promising step in the direction of closing the racial/ethnic school climate gap. The findings revealed that there was a statistically significant relationship between the role of the school leader (principal or superintendent) and their perceptions of their CRSL practices and discipline actions. Findings were further explained and supported by principals and superintendents’ comments on the challenges of implementing CRSL practices and discipline actions in their schools or districts through the open-ended response on the CRSL perception survey. Ultimately, the study serves as a resource to assist the K-12 education leadership community identify where they are on the CRSL practices and discipline actions continuum to follow actionable steps to utilize as a guide to implement in schools district wide as they work towards transformational leadership.