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The overuse and misuse of exclusionary and punitive discipline practices in schools have been consistently linked to social and educational inequities across the globe, particularly for students of color. However, there is an ongoing need for a greater understanding of how school climate factors (e.g., adult-student relationships, racial climate) relate to the types of discipline approaches observed, particularly from the viewpoints of educators. The current study used hierarchical multiple regression analyses to investigate teacher, administrator, and staff (N = 168) survey responses from four junior high schools where discipline disproportionality for Latinx students had been previously established. Analyses explored how perceptions of adult-student relationships were associated with the perceived use of punitive and positive discipline practices and the potential moderating effect of racial climate. Results suggest that perceptions of more positive adult-student relationships were associated with less punitive discipline, but not meaningfully related to positive discipline approaches (i.e., social-emotional instruction, positive reinforcement). Additionally, racial climate was a significant moderator in the relation between adult-student relationships and punitive discipline techniques, enhancing the inverse relation between positive adult-student relationships and punitive discipline. Implications for theory, research, and practical application are discussed.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published in International Journal of School & Educational Psychology in 2021, available online at It may differ slightly from the final version of record.

Peer Reviewed



Taylor & Francis



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