Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A. DiTomasso, Ph.D., ABPP

First Advisor

Dr. Jessica Kendorski, Chairperson

Second Advisor

Diane Smallwood, Psy.D.

Third Advisor

Dr. Linda Schuerholz


Suspensions are the most commonly used discipline strategy in schools and in many cases these lead to poor academic and behavioral outcomes for students. Suspensions are also implemented inconsistently as a consequence of disciplinary infractions; this has resulted in the disproportionate suspension rates of minority and special education students. Recently, school-wide Positive Behavior Support (SWPBS) has emerged as an alternative model to suspension. SWPBS is a proactive, school-wide approach to discipline, which focuses on teaching and reinforcing appropriate behavior to all students. The purpose of the current study is to examine the effectiveness of SWPBS on reducing disproportionate rates of suspension. Current suspension rates of a Maryland school implementing SPWBS were compared with baseline suspension rates prior to the implementation of the program. Specifically, the suspension rates of ethnic minority students and students with disabilities were analyzed to determine if the implementation of SWPBS resulted in a decrease in the suspension rates of these populations of students. Findings from the current study indicate that although universal SWPBS strategies are effective in reducing the overall out-of-school suspension rate of the student population, they are less effective for ethnic minority students and students with disabilities.Implications for schools and future research are discussed.