Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Janette K. Klingner

Second Advisor

David Connor

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Dutro

Fourth Advisor

Kris Gutiérrez

Fifth Advisor

Reiland Rabaka


Too often, students from communities of color experience the school system where they are routed from the doors of a schoolhouse to the doors of a prison; this phenomenon is known as the School to Prison Pipeline. In this dissertation, I explored how identity markers (e.g. race, gender, and disability) were related to education and incarceration through qualitative analysis and Critical Race Theory (CRT).

Research provided us with statistics about the Pipeline; however, there was still little known about the actual experiences of students. Therefore, this study focused on the trajectories of young women of color with disabilities through the Pipeline. Using a combination of identity mapping, interviews, and observations, I collaborated with females of color with emotional disabilities and their teachers to share what has constrained and enabled the success of these young women.

Much of the literature suggested that special education was tied to the School to Prison Pipeline and that females of color with disabilities had unique experiences. This study utilized historically marginalized students as knowledge generators to address the School to Prison Pipeline in an empirically based fashion in order to determine what those experiences are and what we can learn in order to shut off the Pipeline.

To capture the trajectories of the young women of color with disabilities, results are organized according to respective points in the School to Prison Pipeline:

Public Schools->Juvenile Justice Schooling->The Future.

The themes throughout the dissertation were: the educational institutions throughout the Pipeline punished girls for their behaviors without considering the sociocultural context of their lives, the girls’ identities were erased within the content and the only identity girls were encouraged to embrace was criminal. Though the girls had faced difficult situations outside of school, instead of responding with care or concern, these themes intertwined to propel the girls through the School to Prison Pipeline. Finally, the finding suggest that unless teachers’ are trained to utilize a sociocultural view of learning, ability, and culture that is implemented through critical pedagogy, girls who face difficult situations outside of school will continue to be pushed into the School to Prison Pipeline.