Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School

Teacher Education

Committee Member

Christopher Robbins, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sylvia Jones, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Barbara Walters, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Joe Bishop, Ph.D.


This critical ethnographic research utilizes participatory action research (PAR) and case studies to explore the impacts that zero-tolerance policies have had on the lives of Black girls and women. This work contributes to a small but growing body of work on the intersectional struggles faced by Black girls within the School-to-Prison Pipeline. An aim of this research was to work with the participants to amplify their voices and center them as experts on their own lives. Working with a small sample of three girls and women enabled the creation of detailed narratives of their experiences. These narratives point to the fact that for many Black girls and women, it is the experience of trauma that leads them to becoming involved in the pipeline, as their responses to such trauma become criminalized on a daily basis. Further, their experiences at schools within the context of zero-tolerance policies serve to exacerbate their levels of trauma, creating a unique web wherein school itself becomes a sight of trauma and terror for young Black girls. These findings point us to the necessity of implementing trauma-based educational programs and provide guidance for making the changes required to ensure that Black girls are given the space and opportunity to thrive in schools.