Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Supervision

Committee Chair

Patrick Murphy

Committee Member

Melanie Burgess

Committee Member

Michelle Brasfield

Committee Member

Taneshia Greenidge


In American society, the African American male population is often misinterpreted and misunderstood. The media has played a pivotal role in creating, as well as maintaining, negative and unbalanced perceptions of African American males. This societal phenomenon has become prevalent in the education system as it begins the cycle of perceived stereotypes and exposes African American male students to school experiences that are influenced by personal biases and discrimination. This study served two purposes: (1) to explore the experiences of school leaders as it relates to the interactions with African American male students, and (2) to gain a better understanding of a positive school climate with the underlying goal to create safe spaces for this population in the secondary school setting. The theoretical framework, Critical Race Theory, was the driving force behind this research study. A phenomenological case study design was utilized to collect data via interviews in a single setting - a Title I public high school. With the usage of thematic analysis, six themes emerged: (1) positive role modeling through relationship building, (2) finding the why behind behavior, (3) a decrease in educational value, (4) struggles of a Title I school, (5) African American cultural upbringings, and (6) the act of being tough as a self-defense mechanism. The findings of this study aligned with current research on the unjust school experiences of African American male students and exposed the impact of negative stereotypes by examining the school interactions between students and their school leaders. The findings of this research study reveal a need for additional research on the implementation of fair and unbiased school policies, cultural relevance in academic achievement, and cultural understanding in emotional development for African American male students. As a final analysis, this research study uncovers the dire need and significance of creating safe spaces for African American male students in the secondary school setting.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest


Open Access