TO THE EXTENT FEASIBLE:
SOCIAL JUSTICE PRINCIPALS’ PERSPECTIVES
ON STUDENTS WITH ALCOHOL, TOBACCO
AND OTHER DRUG ISSUES
Daniel J. Bissonnette
• Prevalence and impact of
alcohol, tobacco, and other drug
[ATOD] issues in schools
• School discipline policy
• Challenges for Principals
2Bissonnette Dissertation Proposal
• ATOD use in our communities is pervasive and it has a
deleterious impact on public education.
• Students who use drugs are characterized by many of the same
attributes as are school dropouts, have poorer grades and
worse attitudes about academics, are more absent from school,
more rebellious, and take on more risky behaviors (Mensch &
• Inconsistent, inappropriate, or inadequate responses by school
leaders marginalize students with these issues which can lead
to academic failure and dropout.
3Bissonnette Dissertation Proposal
To explore the role and perspectives
of social justice principals in their
work with students who are
impacted by alcohol, tobacco, and
other drug issues
4Bissonnette Dissertation Proposal
• Passionate thought (Neumann, 2006).
• Clinician, educator, consultant.
• Students are predisposed by their culture—peer, family
and social influences—to be accustomed to life with ATOD
• Two students with similar ATOD needs, who attend
different schools, perhaps even within the same district,
and sometimes even attending the same school, may not
get positive leadership support to succeed.
5Bissonnette Dissertation Proposal
• Family, youth and school culture, and culture as it
relates to research on social justice.
• The prevalence and impact of ATOD on youths and
• What schools and social justice leaders can do
when the two matters intersect.
6Bissonnette Dissertation Proposal
REVIEW OF THE
• What has enabled principals who have
compassion and empathy toward students to
work with students with alcohol, tobacco, and
other drug issues?
• How do they convey their leadership to others and
sustain themselves as they face leadership
pressures with regards to these issues?
• What resistance do they face and what are
leadership consequences for their actions?
8Bissonnette Dissertation Proposal
• Basic qualitative research design with participant
• Interviews will be supplemented by archived
documents and artifacts gathered from participants
and from field notes I write during interviews.
• A positioned subject approach is a key element.
9Bissonnette Dissertation Proposal
• Inform approaches to improve leadership preparation
programs beyond academics and school management.
• Contribute to the research on closing the student
• Improve discipline policy, strengthen dropout
prevention efforts, and increase academic success rates.
10Bissonnette Dissertation Proposal