Virginia Elementary Principals' Perspectives on Interagency Collaboration for Children with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Crotts, Lynne, Administration and Supervision - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Bradshaw, Catherine, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

Students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) have challenges that impact their learning or the learning of others in school. Recognizing that schools are a natural and efficient place to offer services and programs for students with EBD, it is critical that we understand the type and process by which services are offered in schools. Interagency collaboration has been shown to be an effective solution to ensuring necessary services are provided; however, there has been limited consideration of the way in which principals view these collaborations. School administrators’ perceptions of how services are administered in their school are an important factor to consider, given they are the facilitators of the process. This qualitative study examined the perspectives of 10 elementary school principals from Virginia who are involved in and are responsible for the services provided to students with EBD. Research questions addressed the extent and nature of collaboration, as well as outcomes, contributors, and barriers to implementation. Data collection included a brief questionnaire and semistructured interviews. The system of care concept and the negotiated order theory served as frameworks that guided the design of the study and data analysis. Consistent with these frameworks, the findings highlighted the importance of communication and principals’ value of outside professionals’ support; however, principals perceived that these external professionals often provided suggestions which did not fit with the school context. Most of the principals perceived it was their responsibility to contact outside agents and to serve as gatekeepers of the school. Ultimately, findings suggested wraparound support and collaboration might help professionals make better-informed decisions regarding services for students with EBD. Taken together, the findings suggest a need for additional staff development and professional learning opportunities for all stakeholders in order to improve the coordination of services and implementation of contextually appropriate support services.

EDD (Doctor of Education)
interagency collaboration, principal perspectives, children with emotional and behavioral disorder
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