Date of Award

Winter 12-15-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Laurie Goodman

Second Advisor

Craig Wheaton

Third Advisor

Keith Larick


Purpose: The purpose of this mixed method study was to determine if there is a difference in achievement, absenteeism, graduation rates and suspension for students enrolled in community schools that do and don’t have access to school-based mental health services. In addition, it was the purpose to identify and describe the practices most effective in improving attendance, reduction of suspension, achievement and graduation as perceived by community school employees.

Methodology: This mixed-method dissertation attempted to determine the difference between California county community schools for expelled students who have had access to school-based mental health and those who do not as it pertains to rates of chronic absenteeism, achievement, suspensions, and graduation rates data collected by The California Department of Education School Dashboard.

Findings: The examination of mixed methods data from California School Dashboard and the 25 interviews indicated a variety of findings. The first three findings are that there is a difference or significant difference in rates of attendance, graduation, and suspension rates for schools that offer mental health. Fourth, the single best way of improving rates of attendance is having an attendance officer. Further finding had to do with how building and maintaining strong relationships assist in attendance, achievement and graduation rates, and conversely the schools that focus on security had the lowest rates of attendance. The last finding was about the importance of transition planning.

Conclusions: This study concluded that making attendance and achievement a priority will increase attendance and achievement, and schools that have transition plans have increases in graduation rates. It further concluded that schools that emphasize the importance of relationships and make mental health a part of the school culture will see improvement in all areas.

Recommendations: Further research is recommended to replicate this study with a population of high school students or to determine the importance of relationship development in improving graduation rates, and to complete a cost/benefit analysis of the use of an attendance officer. Further research is also recommended in the development of transition plans and how that relates to graduation rates.