Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Karen Slonski


A decline in high school dropout rates of students with learning disabilities (SWLDs) has been reported in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). Of the2 school districts in the USVI, St. STT/STJ and STX, the researcher examined high school experiences of SWLDs who dropped out and did not attain a high school diploma in STX. Utilizing the conceptual framework of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, participants' personal high school experiences were examined in an effort to understand factors leading to their choice to drop out. The researcher interviewed 12 participants who were drop out SWLDs, ages 18 years and older. Interview data were coded and analyzed for common themes. Member checking and peer debriefing were utilized to achieve credibility and trustworthiness. Data analysis resulted in the identification of patterns, or themes, relative to participants' STX high school experiences which contributed to their decisions to drop out. The themes included, peer, family and teacher lack of support, ridicule, peer pressure and behavior problems. Most of the participants had not reached Maslow's highest need for self-actualization. Maslow purported that if needs are not being fulfilled in homes, then they can be fulfilled in schools where a positive school culture is apparent. In this case, students with learning disabilities needed to feel there was value in their education and obtaining a high school diploma. The results of this research might contribute to positive social change by identifying SWLDs' need requirements to attain a high school diploma and provide high school administrators with valuable information to enhance school learning environments for SWLDs and increase high school SWLD graduation rates.