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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Keisha Green

Second Advisor

Michael Krezmien

Third Advisor

Mary Cannito-Coville

Subject Categories

Education | Junior High, Intermediate, Middle School Education and Teaching | Other Teacher Education and Professional Development | Prison Education and Reentry | Secondary Education | Secondary Education and Teaching | Social Work | Urban Studies and Planning


The literature makes abundantly clear that trauma has a detrimental impact on students’ academic and behavioral efforts. It also challenges the notion of zero tolerance disciplinary practices being effective in redirecting student behaviors, making schools safer, and creating an environment that is conducive to learning. Yet, our current school climate consists of educators who have not been exposed to trauma-informed learning, while also incorporating disciplinary practices that are both draconian in nature and push students out of their learning spaces. This unfortunate reality is felt even more harshly by students who return to schools following an incarceration. This phenomenological study examined how seven Black and Latine students experienced the negative effects of being exposed to trauma as well as disciplinary practices that mirrored what they encountered during their incarceration. Just as importantly, it also centers the insights provided by participants to help inform educational policies that will better meet their academic and social-emotional needs. Through semi-structured individual and focus group interviews, this study found that participants encountered Institutionalized Criminalization of Youth Behaviors and Manifestations of Complex Trauma as barriers to their academic efforts. It also determined that Utilizing a School-Wide Trauma-Informed Care Approach and Healthy Student-School Personnel Relationships can go a long way in better supporting participants to overcome the academic barriers they encounter upon their return to schools following their incarceration. These findings contribute to the current research since it provides a guideline, so to speak, for educational stakeholders to effectively engage and educate this segment of learners. As a result, the results from this study can be used to help inform educational policies and practices to better meet the needs of trauma-exposed students with carceral histories.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License.