Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Administration

Major Professor

Gerald C. Ubben

Committee Members

Cynthia J. Norris, Gregory C. Petty, C. Glennon Rowell


The exclusion of students from school has been a last-resort response that principals have chosen to correct inappropriate student behaviors. The purpose of this study was to examine student exclusion policies and principal policy implementation practices in Tennessee’s public high schools. The students considered were not suspected for any disability that would require consideration under IDEA or Section 504.

A questionnaire containing nineteen disciplinary scenarios of inappropriate student behaviors was completed by one hundred and ninety-two of Tennessee’s public high school principals. The disciplinary scenarios represented exclusion policies that would warrant the student being suspended from school.

The findings revealed a high level of agreement on exclusion policies regarding no suspension for an incomplete student immunization record and for an attendance violation. There was also a high level of agreement in the short-term suspension of students for inciting others to fight, theft, racial harassment, and class disruption, vandalism, profanity offenses. The findings revealed a high level of agreement on exclusion policies regarding the long-term suspension of students for a firearm, marijuana, Hydrocodone pills, alcohol, and battery upon a School Resource Officer. The findings revealed a high level of variance in exclusion policies in the categories of no suspension, short-term suspensions, and long-term suspensions of students for tobacco, a knife, and off-campus behavior.

The results obtained from the study offered recommendations for replication with other school populations, including special education students, elementary students, and private school students.

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