Out-of-school suspensions for middle and high school students can have negative, long-lasting consequences. Researchers have documented that suspensions have a negative impact on academic development, increase likelihood of dropping out of school, and are associated with a stronger likelihood that students will be involved in the legal system. However, there are students who overcome these negative statistics and matriculate to post-secondary education successfully. This study examines the lived experiences and personal attributes in students’ lives that enabled them to overcome a history of suspension to enter and succeed in higher education. Using Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model, the study’s researchers interviewed individuals who have a history of middle and/or high school suspensions and matriculated to higher education. Findings suggest that sense of belonging; family, home,/school support; and strength of relationships helped participants neutralize the impact and mitigate the negative aspects of suspension.


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