Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Leadership


Sapon-Shevin, Mara


Authority, Change, Equity, Race, Restorative Practices

Subject Categories



This research examined two types of change enacted by implementing Restorative Practices to address racially disproportionate disciplinary practices at an urban middle school. The first was change at a systemic, organizational level and the second as a paradigm shift in the negotiation of race, equity, authority, and Restorative Practices. The research explores essential change components in the planning, enactment, and sustainability of RP implementation and details the history and rationale for selecting RP. This study also explores the perspectives and actions of school staff as they negotiate the intersections of RP, race, equity, and authority. Qualitative data was collected during a fifteen-month case study , including over two hundred hours of classroom and school observations, one-on-one shadowing, fourteen formal interviews and extensive document analysis. Data were analyzed through the theoretical lens of Critical Race Theory and the correlated theories of Interest Convergence and Critical Whiteness. Fullan’s Theory of Action of System Reform (2009a) provided the framework for the comparative systemic analysis of the implementation of Restorative Practices at this school in Year A and Year B of this study. This study offers empirical evidence that Restorative Practices alone cannot deal with issues of race and inequity. To implement Restorative Practices successfully requires an intentional and thoroughly race-cognizant approach to break the silence about race and the insidiousness of Whiteness in a reform initiative chosen to dismantle racial disproportionality. This research also shows how fragile systemic change can be without safeguards in place to ensure sustainability. It concludes with an analysis of the importance of self-reflexivity and on-going vigilance for White researchers studying race throughout the research process.


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