Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Robert Flanders


School principals' leadership strategies and collaborative efforts contribute immensely to defining and managing goals in response to any educational initiatives, including social-emotional learning (SEL) programs. The problem prompting this study was the disproportionate special education referral and school suspension of minority students. Although the focus school district adopted an SEL curriculum and tasked principals with implementation to reduce disproportionality, these disparities continue to persist. This qualitative descriptive study explored 10 principals' leadership strategies and implementation challenges regarding SEL program implementation to close the disparity of special education identification and the suspension and expulsion of minority students at an urban school district in the state of California. Transformational leadership and implementation science frameworks guided this study. Data gathering sources included semi-structured interviews with 10 principals on their leadership behaviors and challenges in implementing SEL programs. For data analysis, I used the NVivo software to organized and stored the data. The findings indicate that clear communications with staff, setting manageable goals, and conducting need assessments that address the disparity and intervention selections were vital. Simultaneously, lack of staff commitments, inadequate professional development, and insufficient time for planning impedes principals' leadership to support SEL implementation at their schools. The results of this study may contribute to social change by informing school leadership on how to provide culturally responsive training for the best practices necessary to support diverse learners, promote proactive practices, and create positive school cultures using SEL.