Date of Award


Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Lauren Casella

Second Advisor

Michael Boyle

Third Advisor

Morgan Friedman


The foundational philosophy of Catholic schools impels them toward inclusive practice. Scholars have repeatedly established that a moral mandate exists in Catholic Social Teaching for Catholic schools to include all students. However, students with disabilities have traditionally been excluded from Catholic school settings due perceived resource constraints, lack of practitioner skill, and the disposition that students with disabilities are better served in public schools. Many Catholic schools have made tremendous progress in inclusive practice, and stand at the forefront of this work, but these efforts have not been replicated at scale.

The purpose of this study was to explore how communities of practice support inclusion in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. A convergent mixed methods approach to social network analysis was used to describe the state of inclusive practice in Catholic schools and the relationships that facilitate diffusion of information and resources across these organizations. The findings of this study indicated that Catholic educators strongly support inclusion and associate it with the mission of Catholic education but lack capacity in their knowledge and resources to create inclusive environments, despite the presence of skilled teachers and other internal resources. The study found that Catholic schools are resourceful and build effective partnerships with parents, students, and outside organizations to support students with disabilities, but that networks across school sites are fragmented.