Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Shana J. Haines


Restorative Practices (RP) are rapidly being adopted in PreK-12 schools throughout the United States as these institutions seek ways to both improve school climate and utilize alternatives to harsh zero-tolerance discipline policies. RP offers a proactive, relational, and reactive framework in which schools can intentionally build community, foster trust, and provide opportunities for students, staff, and community members to address and repair harm when it occurs. As more schools move towards implementing RP, it is important to consider the experiences of teachers tasked with implementation. In particular, special educators represent critical implementers of RP as they can accommodate and modify practices to fit the needs of students with disabilities. Students with disabilities are disproportionately affected by zero-tolerance discipline policies, and it is critical to consider how special educators are utilizing RP in order to examine the degree to which RP is fulfilling its promise to cultivate increasingly inclusive and equitable schools. This study explores the findings from semi-structured one-to-one interviews conducted with 12 Vermont middle and high school special educators to understand their experience of utilizing RP within their role and with students with disabilities. Opportunities and challenges related to the utility and accessibility of RP for students with disabilities are explored, along with implications for broader RP implementation.



Number of Pages

132 p.