Student Perceptions of Discretion in Discipline: Seeking Resolution and Restoration in a Punitive Culture
Webb, Owen D.
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This study examined high school student perceptions of discretion utilized by educators in high school disciplinary proceedings. Using a sample of 6 high school students who had experienced differing levels of formal discipline, the study investigated the discretionary factors that influence an educator's decision making. The study was a generic qualitative study where the primary source of data collection was open-ended interviews to ensure the integrity of the research as a study of student voices and perceptions. Journaling was also employed to record observations and to identify researcher assumptions. The data were analyzed employing aspects of a grounded theory approach. The findings were coded to reveal 5 areas high school students identified in relation to discipline and discretion: punitive discipline versus problem resolution, effective processes, educator discretion, student discretion, and the student-educator relationship. The final discussion highlights the need for a community vision for high school discipline in order to channel discretion and to uphold students' best interests. Restorative justice is proposed as a feasible vision for high school discipline, whereby participants' responses are measured against a restorative paradigm.