Zero tolerance for some: the role of race in zero tolerance exclusionary discipline


Bejarano, Meghan (2014). Zero tolerance for some: the role of race in zero tolerance exclusionary discipline.


Within the last few decades, zero tolerance policies and exclusionary discipline have become the standard way in which schools manage student behavior. These policies, namely suspension and expulsion have been shown to have negative impacts on the lives of students who are punished with them. Educationally, the removal of students from the classroom hurts their chances of achieving academic success. Furthermore, these policies have been linked with an increase in the presence of law enforcement on school campuses, which results in the arrest of students, burdening them with expensive and serious legal battles. This research examines whether nonwhite students are more likely to be sanctioned by this form of discipline. A nationally representative sample of middle and high school students is used to estimate four logistic regression models, with exclusionary discipline as the dependent variable and race as the primary independent variable. The analysis shows that nonwhite students are more likely to suspended or expelled than white students–even when student behavior is the same. This research adds to the existing body of research on exclusionary discipline and provides a nationally generalizable study to support the claim the nonwhite students are at an increased risk to be sanctioned by zero tolerance policies.


Reference Type


Book Title



Bejarano, Meghan

Series Author(s)

Ford, Jason

Year Published



University of Central Florida

Reference ID