Decoteau J. Irby

Educational Policy Studies Faculty Affiliate

Decoteau Irby is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Policy Studies where he teaches and advises in the College's Urban Education Leadership program area. He researches equity-focused school leadership as a lever to improve Black children's academic and socio-emotional experiences and outcomes.


2009 - Ph.D., Urban Education, Temple University (Philadelphia, PA)
2004 - M.A., Geography and Urban Studies, Temple University (Philadelphia, PA)
1998 - B.S., Economics, College of Charleston (Charleston, SC)

Research & Teaching Interests

My research explores how equity-focused school leadership can be used as a lever to improve Black children and youth's academic achievement and socio-emotional well-being across a range of K-12 educational settings. Specifically, I am interested in how adults make sense of and use their personal and collective influence and resources to transform educational spaces (including the self) to benefit students of color. My substantive areas of expertise include: school safety and approaches to violence reduction; improving school discipline policies and practices; culturally responsive leadership; and positive school culture and climate. My preferred research methodology is participatory action research. I value and use both qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis methods including "hybrid" methods such as ethnographic content analysis.

My faculty appointment is in the Department of Educational Policy Studies where I teach and advise primarily in the Urban Education Leadership Ed.D. program. I teach classes in the areas of educational leadership, organizational change, and school improvement using pedagogical approaches grounded in action research, team-based inquiry, and active learning. I am also an affiliate member of the College of Education's Center for Urban Education Leadership. My research and teaching goals are two-prong: (a) to produce critical and pragmatic educational scholarship that offers a range of insights (theoretical to practical) into what is required for schools to provide students of color affirming educational experiences and outcomes and (b) to cultivate within current and future school leaders the will, dispositions, and adaptive skills to lead educational organizations that honor the dignity of Black children and prepare these same students to live excellent lives.

Selected Publications


Drame, E. & Irby, D. (eds.). (2015). Black Participatory Research: Power, Identity, and the Struggle for Justice in Education. Palgrave-MacMillan: New York, NY.

Peer-reviewed articles

Slaten, C., Irby, D., Tate, K., and Rivera, R. (2015). Towards a critically conscious approach to social and emotional learning in alternative education: school staff members’ perspectives. Journal for Social Action in Counseling and Psychology. 7(1), 41-62.

Drame, E.R., & Irby, D. (2015). Positionality and Racialization in a PAR Project: Reflections and Insights from a School Reform Collaboration. The Qualitative Report, 20(8), 1164-1181. Retrieved from

Irby, D. (2015). Urban is Floating Face Down in the Mainstream: Using Hip-Hop Based Education Research to Resurrect “The Urban” in Urban Education. Urban Education, 50(1), 7-30. doi:10.1177/0042085914563183

Irby, D. (2014). Revealing Racial Purity Ideology: Fear of Black–White Intimacy as Framework for Understanding School Discipline in Post-Brown Schools. Educational Administration Quarterly (Special Issue on 60th Anniversary of Brown v. Board). 50(5), 783-795. doi: 10.1177/0013161X14549958

Irby, D. (2014). Trouble at School: Understanding School Discipline Systems as Nets of Social Control. Equity and Excellence in Education (Special Issue on Understanding and Disrupting the School-to-Prison Pipeline). 47(4), 513 - 530. doi: 10.1080/10665684.2014.958963

Irby, D. & Clough, C. (2014). Consistency Rules: A critical exploration of a universal principle of school discipline. Pedagogy, Culture, and Society. 28(2), 153 - 173. doi:10.1080/14681366.2014.932300

Irby, D. & Mawhinney, L. (2014). Strategies for Dropout Prevention: Partnering with formerly incarcerated adult non-completers. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth. 58(2), 2 – 10. doi: 10.1080/1045988X.2013.785923