Graduation Year


Document Type

Master's Thesis


Master of Science



Program Director

Jennifer Lucko, PhD

First Reader

Jennifer Lucko, PhD

Second Reader

Elizabeth Truesdell, PhD


Research conducted over decades in the field of education has shown overwhelmingly that student removal from schools has a long lasting negative impact on students’ outcomes. This research overlaid with studies showing that students with special needs are at higher risk of experiencing exclusionary practices and are more likely to be subjected to repeated removal, makes this problem of significant importance. In the face of these dire findings, current research, however, also suggests that the use of alternatives to removal are showing promising results in effectively addressing behavioral needs in the classroom. The purpose of this research project was to better understand the factors that staff weigh when considering implementation of an alternative to suspension when addressing student behavior. This qualitative study investigates this phenomenon through a series of interviews conducted with members of a specific kind of Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) meeting called a Manifestation Determination meeting. This study strives to understand these participants’ perspectives during the process of addressing discipline. The findings from the research show that teacher identity, perceptions of the student, and the system itself are factors that impact decisions that staff make on a daily basis when addressing student behavior and discipline.

IRB Number


Available for download on Friday, May 31, 2024

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