Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


William Benet


Lower graduation rates among Black, Latino, and low-income students negatively impact individuals, families, and communities. The Communities in Schools (CIS) model was widely used in urban school districts due to suggested positive outcomes butwas underrepresented in current independent research. Using Benet’s polarities of democracy as the theoretical framework, this qualitative case study allowed for the collection and analysis of perceptions of educators within the Atlanta Public Schools (APS). The results of this study suggested social change implications related to increasing manpower in urban high schools and the development and use of comprehensive student support services to reach more at-risk students. Increased funding through grants and foundations and budgetary policy changes to provide additional funding for targeted interventions were essential. The underutilization of the CIS model and lack of awareness of services were evident and required adjustments in the management and implementation of the model to increase effectiveness. Additionally, the ineffective management of the polarity pair of human rights and communal obligations negatively impacted the ability of schools to create healthy and just communities and further analysis indicated ineffective management of other polarity pairs. The results of this study suggested that the Atlanta Board of Education may want to consider reviewing and modifying district and school policies related to improving graduation rates through the development of stronger school-community partnerships and the funding to support these initiatives which would lead to positive social change.