Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Education (Ed.D.)


Administrative and Instructional Leadership

First Advisor

Joan Birringer-Haig

Second Advisor

Anthony Annunziato

Third Advisor

Catherine DiMartino


For more than forty years, the United States’ public education system’s “zero-tolerance” policies, and disciplinary practices rooted in those policies, have negatively impacted and marginalized minority students far greater than the general student body population. Over the years, nationwide studies have identified complex multifaceted predictors of negative disciplinary practices, such as: race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, teacher-student matches, gender, student behaviors and attitudes. Studies indicated clear and undeniable correlations between exclusionary practices, “zero-tolerance” policies and its disproportionate use toward minority students, particularly African American males who can be identified as a specific minority group within a larger minority and racial group. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as “pushout.” The goal of the research was to identify principals’ perceived equity-focused leadership practices and their relationship to behavioral outcomes for students. Although race/ethnicity is one of the most significant predictors, this study sought to examine a consequential factor that is not widely discussed or researched: the school principal’s influence on behavioral outcomes for students. Analyzing structures and practices through a multidimensional approach of Critical Race Theory and Organizational Leadership for Equity Framework can be a key factor in accelerating and building capacity and fostering reflection in others. This study consisted of a survey of high school principals from nine New York counties outside of the metropolitan area. An analysis of the collected data revealed the following demographic themes: predominant gender of high school principals were men; the majority of the principals identified their race as White, the years of service for the majority of surveyed high school principals was 11-20 years, indicating the administrator demographics are not progressively changing in tandem with that of the populations within the nine counties. The findings from the study identified the principals’ perceptions of equity-focused leadership practices and its relationship to student behavioral outcomes for African American male students. The survey offered insight into who is really behind the disciplinary decisions made in schools, and how principals equate infractions and severity of punishment with consequences. The study demonstrated how African American male students are still prone to disciplinary disparities even when perceived equitable leadership practices are activated.