Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Marie Cianca

Second Supervisor

Donna Riter


The purpose of this qualitative, phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of students classified with an emotional disturbance who were long-term suspended from school, their parent/guardians, and school administrators. Using a semi-structured interview design, this study provided participants in an urban school district in upstate New York, with an opportunity to share their firsthand perspectives on the long-term suspension process and its effects on student identities, school experiences, and future ambitions. Research questions were aligned with Bandura’s self-efficacy theoretical framework. The first research question examined the experiences of students with an emotional disturbance during the long-term suspension process. The second research question explored what, if any, were the perceived effects of the long-term suspension process on students with an emotional disturbance during and after serving their long-term suspension. As a result data collected from the participants, three themes emerged from the first research question: (a) asymmetrical educational experience; (b) communication failure; and (c) self-destructive relationships. In addition, four themes surfaced from the second research question: (a) perceptions of being misunderstood and worthless; (b) set up for failure; (c) public school pipeline to incarceration; and (d) preventable wildfire. The findings from this study suggest that the current long-term suspension process exacerbates the academic failure of the students, and leaves students with a diminished sense of well-being. Participant data revealed that there is consensus that the long-term suspension system, as currently operated, is broken and in need of comprehensive repair.

Included in

Education Commons