In this qualitative study, the authors examined the culturally nuanced meanings of out-of-school suspensions for 30 lower income caregivers of African American children suspended from school. Caregivers were invited to describe their experiences of their children's suspensions during in-depth, individual, audiotaped interviews. Caregivers generally valued their children's school success, recognized when their children had misbehaved, and supported educators' imposition of appropriate consequences. Out-of-school suspensions, however, were rarely viewed as appropriate consequences. On the contrary, caregivers produced emotionally laden moral narratives that generally characterized their children's suspensions as unjust; harmful to children; negligent in helping children with underlying problems such as bullying; undermining parents' racial socialization; and, in general, racially problematic. Suspensions also contributed to some families' withdrawal from participation in their schools. Understanding how caregivers experience children's out-of-school suspensions provides important clues to how families and schools can work together to effectively reduce racial disparities in out-of-school suspensions.
- African Americans, caregivers' narratives
- out-of-school suspensions
- social injustice