Methods: From within a large school district of 180 schools, 37 were purposively selected for inclusion in the study based on having attained equitable discipline rates (< 3%) for all students. 33 of these schools participated with representation from 20 elementary, 4 middle schools, 3 high schools, and 5 schools that educated students across multiple grade levels. Interviews were conducted with school administrators and focus groups were facilitated with school faculty and staff all using a semi-structured interview guide. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using Dedoose software. Analysis relied on inductive and deductive approaches, as a preliminary code framework was developed based on existing literature but the unique experiences of participants was derived from iterative code development. Codes were assessed for inter-rater reliability across a team of three researchers using Cohen’s Kappa (k > .80).
Results/Implications: Findings indicate that while nearly every school in the sample used a school-wide PBIS system, despite nearly a decade of racial bias and equity training, only a handful implemented their systems within a culturally responsive framework. Moreover it appears that race was still a taboo and uncomfortable subject for many. Among schools that discussed a culturally responsive implementation of PBIS, they shared that the impetus started with the faculty and staff taking responsibility for their own privilege, bias, and the systemic impacts of oppression on their students. Ownership permeated the school, impacting data systems, promoting the further disaggregation of discipline data, and detailed review of discipline terms and implicit norms to ensure representation and visibility of a wide array of cultures and ethnicities.