Graduate Program

School Psychology

Degree Name

Specialist in School Psychology

Semester of Degree Completion

Spring 2022

Thesis Director

Assege HaileMariam

Thesis Committee Member

Margaret T. Floress

Thesis Committee Member

Hao-Jan Luh


The school-to-prison pipeline is a process in which school children are funneled out of the school system and into the criminal justice system through suspension and expulsion, both forms of exclusionary discipline. Suspension and expulsion are ineffective disciplinary policies that have harmful effects on school children, contributing to grade retention, drop-out, involvement in the juvenile justice system, and higher unemployment and incarceration rates as adults. These damaging practices occur in the presence of school-based mental health professionals (school psychologists, school social workers, and school counselors) who are trained to promote the overall wellbeing and success of school children. In the current exploratory study, 341 school- based mental health professionals completed The Perceptions and Role in Disciplinary Practices Survey (PRDPS). Results indicate that school-based mental health professionals typically have perceptions of the disciplinary policies and practices related to the school-to-prison pipeline that are aligned with the current literature and favor disciplinary programs/practices that were preventative, rather than exclusionary in nature. Participants reported generally inadequate levels of graduate/professional development training in effective behavior management strategies, effective disciplinary policies, and training regarding the school-to-prison pipeline. Despite participants reports of advocating for best practices in school discipline, only 50% of participants felt they played a valuable role in school disciplinary practices. There were significant differences among school psychologists, school counselors, and school social workers on their perceptions of the school-to-prison pipeline, role in disciplinary practices in their schools, and in their reported levels of graduate and professional development training.