Date of Award

5-2007

Level of Access

Campus-Only Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Educational Leadership

Advisor

Dianne L. Hoff

Second Committee Member

William E. Davis

Third Committee Member

George F. Marnik

Additional Committee Members

Owen J. Logue

A. James Artesani

Abstract

Reintegrating students with emotional and behavioral impairments from therapeutic placements to high schools continues to present challenges. Students are oftentimes unsuccessful when they return to home districts, and educators feel anxious and ill equipped to assist them.

Most researchers address the problem extrinsically, exploring least restrictive environment, interagency collaboration, student empowerment, or the role of administrators in shaping school policy around student transitions. What is missing in the literature is research focused specifically on reintegration from a more experiential perspective.

The purpose of this study, therefore, was to examine the experiences of students who had successfully reintegrated from therapeutic placements to high school. Because of the nature of the research questions, a comparative case study methodology was employed.

The participants for this study included two male students with emotional and behavioral challenges, along with adults who had been instrumental in their success. Extensive interviews probed for their impressions of how school structured protocols and school climate might have contributed to these successful transitions.

Six findings emerged from the data. 1.) The transition requires coordination and flexibility. Both scheduled meetings and informal contact proved crucial to these transitions. 2.) Student and parent voice is essential, which means including them at the table and valuing their opinions. 3.) The judicious dissemination of information to school staff is important, but what, and to whom, continues to raise questions. 4.) Transitioning students seek close relationships with teachers; however, teachers feel uneasy about the inclusion of these students in their classrooms. 5.) The comprehensiveness and diversity of the high schools contributed to a school atmosphere of tolerance, which helped students adjust. 6.) Despite long histories of emotional and behavioral problems, students exhibited the ability to "bounce back." School practices and climate, along with support from adults, helped them cultivate resiliency and independence.

Implications from the study include that parents and students must maintain vigilant attitudes toward transitions and be unafraid to self advocate, strongly if necessary. They should be involved at each stage of the process. Educators need well-planned, yet flexible protocols for transitions and opportunities for professional development.

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