Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Major Professor

Zorka Karanxha, Ed. D.

Committee Member

William R. Black, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Frederick Steier, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Brenda L. Walker, Ph.D.


Discourse Analysis, Exclusionary Discipline, Poststructuralism, School Discipline, Zero-Tolerance Policy


Over the past twenty-five years, in the United States, zero-tolerance policies that were initially implemented to deter gun violence and drugs in schools have expanded to include a wide range of discretionary offenses such as disrespect and defiance. As a result, many students have been denied access to educational opportunities, been excluded from their peers, and had their lives irrevocably changed due to systemic sanctioning of exclusionary practices. Educators, who are caught between competing societal demands, job expectations, and ethical beliefs about their profession are tasked with balancing the instructional and interactional components of their work in an attempt to provide support for their students. This study uses Gee’s (2014) methods for discourse analysis to explore the ways in which various D/discourses related to student discipline are conceptualized and enacted in one school district. Findings include intertextual connections between broader societal Discourses related to discipline in education; issues of power and agency related to the enactment of discipline; and disconnects in the structures that are meant to support educators and students.