Preferred Name

Sarah Lanyi

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Educational Specialist (EdS)


Department of Graduate Psychology


Tiffany Hornsby

Tammy Gilligan

Amanda Evans


The disproportionate use of exclusionary discipline with African American students in American schools is systemic and well documented in the literature. School climate has been found to be related to suspension rates and as the literature has begun to demonstrate the differences in how African American students experience their school’s climate when compared to White students, an area of intervention has revealed itself. As school psychologists begin work improving school climates with the intentional goal of reducing the racial discipline gap, they may find success by improving school climate, and more specifically, the school’s racial climate. The current systematic review explored what relationship, if any, exists between school racial climate and discipline within K-12 schools. After a search of databases, six studies were selected. While none measured school racial climate explicitly as described in Byrd (2017)’s framework, the selected studies were included because they directly measure discipline in K-12 schools and school climate by racial group or as it affects racial discipline disparities. Results indicated that schools with an authoritative climate have fewer suspensions overall but not necessarily a smaller racial discipline gap; and several other aspects of school climate including positive student-teacher relationships, disciplinary structure, and African American students’ perceptions of equity and sense of belonging are associated with smaller racial discipline gaps. Implications for future research and school psychologists’ practice are discussed.



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