Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education

Academic Discipline

Disability and Equity in Education

First Advisor

Dr. Terry Jo Smith


In the State of Illinois, changes are taking effect related to classroom culture and educational policy is moving from “safe schools/zero tolerance” policies to restorative justice practices. Through a feminist disability studies lens, the focus of this a phen[women]ological study of the lived experiences of six educators from two different schools in Illinois and their perceptions of restorative justice, care, inclusion, and disability was to ask: How are educators making sense of restorative justice practices? What are the implications for students with disabilities? Five topics of significance surfaced, including (a) caring; (b) restorative justice and inclusion; (c) impact of technology; (d) safety and guns; and (e) healing, empathy, and forgiveness. With the emerging laws, policies, and procedures currently being implemented throughout the United States, it is essential to create educational systems that encourage restorative justice practices, assist students in addressing adverse childhood experiences, promote the importance of social emotional learning (both in and outside of the classroom setting), and remain current on trauma-informed practices so all students (regardless of ability, label, background, or adversity) have the opportunity to be included and to succeed in both their education and in life. Educators, administrators, and future policy creators are in a unique position to create healing learning spaces where human rights cultures can be cultivated and everyone is valued, respected, and included.