Date of Award
Master of Social Work (MSW)
Recent reviews of the Safe Schools Act, Ontario's school disciplinary policy have raised concerns regarding the disproportionate impact on racialized students and students with disabilities. Critics claim that zero tolerance and the simultaneous provision of mitigating factors leaving room for the abuse of discretionary authority, calls into question the role of discipline in the education system. Reactions to the reports were highly publicized, suggesing that a certain level of resistance existed among members of school communities in the Greater Toronto Area. This exploratory study set out to examine whether this resistance could be substantiated and if so, how it is structured. Using a qualitative, semi-structured interviewing format, this study explored the opinions of parents, educators and community advocates regarding the impact on racialized students facing suspension and expulsion in particular. Participants were asked to reflect on the introduction and application of the policy and it's effectiveness in addressing safety, in the context of the neo-liberalization of the education system and corresponding devolution of an institutional commitment to equity. This author reflects on the punitive approach to behaviour management and discipline driven by an ideology of safety in the neo-liberalized system, using an integrative anti-racist approach that validates the restorative justice model. Shifting notions of citizenship help to legitimate the militarization of the school system manifesting in increased surveillance and criminalization of racialized students and parents. This study concludes by highlighting participants' reflections on the lack of accountability in a letigious school environment, where the denial of public education has serious implications for students who face systemic barriers to economic survival. Finally, the paper concludes with suggestions for moving away from punitive approaches to behaviour management to the institution of a restorative justice principles in building a culture of reparations.
Cho, Michelle, "Disproportionate Impact? School Discipline in a Neo-Liberal State" (2005). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 4853.
McMaster University Library