Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Education (Ed.D.)


Administrative and Instructional Leadership

First Advisor

Catherine DiMartino

Second Advisor

Thomas Fasano

Third Advisor

Cecilia Parnther


Nearly 34% of students who drop out of high school do so due to being incarcerated. Research has shown that students of color and those receiving special education services are at an increased risk of transitioning from the public education system to the criminal justice system in what is referred to as the School-to-Prison-Pipeline (Annamma, 2015; Barnes & Motz, 2018; Hart & Mueller, 2012; Pyle, Flower, Fall, & Williams, 2016). A bigger issue than the graduation rate is understanding what motivates students to return to public education, post-incarceration, to complete their high school requirements as told by the students. For this study, four individuals who were incarcerated but have since earned their high school diploma or completed the General Educational Development test (GED) were selected to participate. All participants (n = 4) received case management services via an agency with a mission of assisting formerly incarcerated youths to reintegrate with society, but specifically with education for the purpose of this study. English is the primary language for all participants – three of whom are male and the fourth is a female student. This narrative study involves each participant engaging in a series of four semi-structured interviews discussing their perceptions of school and incarceration as well as the motivations behind their actions which led to incarceration and their subsequent return to public education. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed with the help of the software program, Dedoose. This study sought to fill a significant gap in research relating to student incarceration and public education reintegration by allowing the participants to share their life experiences. The design of this study allowed for the participants to reflect on their experiences and express what motivated them to make the decisions they have made throughout their lives. Ultimately, this study serves to inform educators on how to best support students at-risk of incarceration and provide effective interventions based on the self-report of individuals who experienced these circumstances.

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