All races of children entering kindergarten face many challenges during their transition; however, in two rural public schools in northern Wisconsin, the challenges faced by Native American kindergarten students are somewhat extraordinary. Suspensions of Native American students in kindergarten have occurred from 1998-2007. According to the statistics from Wisconsin Network for Successful Schools' website, this practice did not appear to extend to non-Native American kindergarten students at these same rural public schools. A total of forty-three Native American Ojibwe students were suspended in these two schools during this time frame.
A qualitative, phenomenological study was conducted in order to gather rich, thick detail regarding the students and parents' memories of their experiences with the kindergarten suspension incident(s) through in-depth interviews. A total of six students, ages 11-14 years old, and their parents were recruited for participation through a homo-genous and purposeful sampling.
The responses were grouped according to the questions using a Nvivo software program, which was then coded and organized by the researcher according to nodes. Nodes are the common themes. An analysis and interpretation of the findings was devel-oped after organizing various data according to themes.
Three common themes emerged as challenges for both the students and parents: being bullied, being labeled, and the display of anger or physical violence by students in the suspension incidents. Other unexpected outcomes emerged for parents regarding their child's medication issues, concerns surrounding their Individual Education Plans, and parents' work issues.
Recommendations were offered for schools to create frequent and intensified services for incoming kindergarten students with IEP's, as well as focus on communica-tion issues, anti-bullying efforts, clarification on restraint of students and/or staff training on use of restraints, and additional cultural sensitivity/competency efforts for schools. Tribal governments and/or a tribal representative should advocate for the tribal commun-ity to ensure needed services for children with Individual Education Plans (IEP's) are being provided in a timely manner for a smooth transition into the public school.
Unversity of Minnesota Ed.D. dissertation. May 2013. Major: Teaching and Learning. Advisor: Dr. Joyce A. Strand. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 139 pages, appendices A-C.
Goslin, LaVonne Marie.
A phenomenological study of kindergarten suspension of Ojibwe tribal students in two rural Wisconsin public schools.
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