Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Leadership & Policy Studies

Committee Chair

Angiline Powell

Committee Member

Karen W Kitchens

Committee Member

Edith Gnanadass

Committee Member

Ronald Platt


African American female students suspension rates are rising and outpacing those of all categories of students, including African American males. This is due, in part, to an administrators over-reliance on zero-tolerance disciplinary policies, as well as a teachers negative perception of African American female students. Soaring rates of suspension contribute to school disengagement, high dropout rates, and a formidable risk of involvement in the school to prison pipeline. In addition to the toll these risks take on human lives, society loses the benefit of human productivity, taxable wages, and stable, thriving communities. As attention to the rising rate of suspension of African American females increases, there are several suggested interventions to reverse the trend. Some researchers offer strategies like Positive Behavior Interventions (PBI) that modify students behavior. Others recommend culturally sensitive, professional learning for teachers. Administrators are encouraged to replace zero-tolerance policies with restorative justice practices. There is, however, a paucity of research that offers humor, specifically, benevolent and corrective humor, as a tool that administrators can apply, instead of handling office referrals with harsh, disciplinary decrees when they exercise their authority to suspend a student.The purpose of this study was to examine whether a principals benevolent and corrective humor score was predictive of the suspension rate of African American female students. Guided by established research in transformational leadership, school suspensions, and Black Girlhood Studies, a newly created, self-administered, Benevolent, and Corrective Humor Scale was distributed to a nationwide population of educational leaders. Benevolent humor is compassionate and for the benefit of the individual. Corrective humor is a moral-based mockery with a sympathetic heart. The blend of these evidence-based approaches was used to address the complex and multi-layered lives of African American females and their heightened risk for suspension. Results indicate a weak, positive relationship between corrective humor question 2 and the percentage of African American female students r (.149), p = .040. Recommendations for educational leaders and future research are provided.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest


Open Access