Adaptive Leadership Organizational Viewpoints: Charter School Decision-Makers and Supports for Students with Emotional Disturbance Through Shifts in Policy
Author(s)McOlvin, Meredith Ann
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AbstractStudents with emotional disturbance (ED) show consistently low rates of academic success and high rates of drop out and incarceration. These students require multiple levels of support to address the barriers to education presented by their mental health and social-emotional needs. Former California policy, AB-3632, mandated interagency collaboration between school districts and the Department of Mental Health to ensure that students would receive the appropriate supports required to access the school environment, even when those supports extended beyond the capacity of school staff. However, AB-114, a budget bill signed in 2010, repealed the funding for interagency collaboration mandated by AB-3632. In response, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and affiliated charter schools shifted the responsibility for providing counseling and social-emotional supports to school-based staff. This mixed methods study used the validating quantitative data model of triangulation design to explore and describe how a unique population of LAUSD-authorized charter schools responded to AB-114 and the extent to which they exhibited adaptive leadership organizational viewpoints. This study introduces Option 3 charter schools as an area of education with limited existing scholarship and describes decision-makers’ experience of responding to a specific change in policy. Analysis included data from 47 survey respondents, a document review of publicly available student achievement records by subgroup, and 8 semi-structured interviews. The findings of this study suggest that expertise is imperative for understanding and responding to policy, but is also an area where decision-makers display mixed levels of confidence. Data indicate a range of confidence in understanding policy intent and impact, ranging from thorough understanding to total lack of knowledge. Recommendations include shared responsibility across multiple levels of educational authority regarding policy expertise and implementation, as well as continued research concerning Option 3, AB-114, and adaptive leadership organizational viewpoints.