Cheney Free Press -

Staff Reporter 

Dr. Dotson: Cheney assistant superintendent's academic milestone


October 25, 2018

Cheney School District

Cheney Assistant Superintendent Sean Dotson wrote his doctoral dissertation on exclusionary discipline practices in education.

It was a momentous week for Cheney's Assistant Superintendent Sean Dotson as he celebrated a significant achievement - earning his doctorate in educational leadership from Washington State University.

Dotson has been working toward his Ph.D. for nearly five years due to having small children at home and a demanding job, he said.

"It's always been something I was interested in, the chance to reach that highest level of education," Dotson said. "It's really exciting."

A study on advanced education graduation rates called "The Ph.D. Completion Project" estimates that the 10-year completion rate for a doctoral degree is just 55-64 percent in STEM fields, 56 percent in social sciences and 49 percent in the humanities.

Superintendent Rob Roettger recognized Dotson's accomplishment at the Oct. 10 school board meeting, congratulating him and noting the many nights Dotson stayed at the office late into the night to work on his dissertation.

"His research will definitely make him an even stronger leader in the district," Roettger said.

Dotson's dissertation is titled "Reducing Exclusionary Discipline: Alignment of Administrator and Staff Perceptions and Implications for the Work." It uses interviews and focus-group research to examine the perspective of school administrators and staff as they seek to reduce the use of exclusionary discipline in their school.

His work also explored how administrator staff perceptions align with each other and current practices and what the implications might be for addressing exclusionary discipline in the future.

A doctorate will give Dotson more flexibility in his career, including the opportunity to teach at a college level in retirement, he said. He also hopes the research he did for his dissertation will prove useful in his role as assistant superintendent.

"One of my goals when I chose the topic was that it be something that could help in the work I do for the district," Dotson said.

Dotson will officially graduate in December, but the completion and defense of his doctoral thesis marks the culmination of his scholarly work in graduate school. 

Shannen Talbot can be reached at


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