Date of Award

Spring 5-9-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Nicholas J. Sauers, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Sheryl Cowart Moss, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Kendra Washington-Bass, Ph.D.


It is no secret that many schools struggle with student behavior. Educators are concerned with how to effectively and positively manage student conduct. By drawing on research from a variety of discipline approaches including zero tolerance, discretionary discipline, and exclusionary discipline, the review of literature points out that these methods often negatively affect students. As an answer to the perennial issue of student misbehavior, some schools have chosen to implement behavior intervention programs intended to increase educational seat time and decrease office discipline referrals. The purpose of this qualitative study was (1) to examine the study participants’ perceptions of the impact of leadership behaviors on SWPBIS implementation and (2) to examine how the participants perceived the impact of leadership on school climate and student behavior under SWPBIS implementation. This dissertation drew from the conceptual underpinning of constructivism to investigate how a middle school in the Southeastern United States implemented SWPBIS. Data were collected in the case study through structured, face to face interviews with an administrator and several teachers regarding the implementation of SWPBIS. Few studies of SWPBIS if any, investigate the implementation fidelity in middle schools using national, state, and local SWPBIS guidelines along with interviews and school observations. For this study, data were gathered from one school site that experienced a decline in office discipline referrals over the past few years since the program's inception. Study participants represented various grade levels and departments, each having worked at the school during the beginning stages of SWPBIS. The key findings revealed insights to some of the significant factors that influenced the implementation at the school as well as some of the barriers and impediments for this initiative from the study participants’ perspective. This study will add to the body of literature by shedding light on positive discipline practices used in a middle school.