Aisha Thomas


Breaking the Cycle: Strategies for Reducing Exclusionary Discipline of Black Boys in Public Education


This capstone presentation focuses on the exclusionary discipline gap in public education. It focuses on African American boys in grades K-12, which is the population most affected by exclusionary discipline. Exclusionary discipline in public education is correlated with negative outcomes for this population. By examining the scope and understanding of this matter, a proposal is put forward to address and alleviate exclusionary discipline and its underlying causes. A comprehensive literature review systematically evaluates positive behavior interventions such as restorative practices and culturally responsive teaching efficacy. Due to the lack of literature on both interventions, the conceptual paper proposes a culturally responsive pedagogy framework to combat implicit bias and see a change in public education. The final piece of the capstone project presents a practice application for school mental health employees to utilize a comprehensive psychoeducation program that includes implicit bias training with restorative practices to mitigate the exclusionary discipline gap.


Aisha Thomas, a licensed clinical Social worker, is a dedicated mental health practitioner and doctoral candidate poised to make significant contributions to the field of social work. Holding a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Indiana University Southeast and a Master of Science in Social Work from the University of Louisville, Aisha’s academic journey has been marked by a relentless commitment to understanding and addressing the complexities of human behavior and societal challenges. Currently pursuing her doctorate at the University of Kentucky, with an anticipated graduation in May 2024, Aisha’s academic pursuits reflect her passion for advancing the field of social work.

With over ten years of professional experience, Aisha has honed her skills in diverse settings, including psychiatric hospitals and residential treatment facilities. However, her role as a Mental Health Practitioner in the Jefferson County Public Schools has ignited her passion for serving children and families. In her current capacity, Aisha provides individual, family, and group counseling and serves as a lead crisis responder on the school’s crisis team, providing invaluable support during challenging times.

Aisha’s dedication extends beyond her clinical work into research addressing systemic disparities within the education system. Her current research focuses on the racial discipline gap, particularly its impact on African American males, and seeks to identify strategies to mitigate this pervasive issue. Through her research and practice, Aisha is committed to advocating for equity and social justice, ensuring all individuals have the support they need to thrive.