Date of Award

April 2023

Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Rebecca Stephenson

Second Advisor

Mary McCullough

Third Advisor

Howard Ho


With more than 10% of all high school age students taking classes at a continuation school at some point in their high school career, this normally forgotten alternative learning environment is one that serves many of our most historically marginalized student groups: Black, Latinx, those with learning differences, and English Learners (Ruiz de Velasco et al., 2012). Leadership in schools is the difference-maker in student learning efficacy (Wahlstrom et al., 2010; Whitaker, 2020). This qualitative study was situated on the theoretical framework created by Madhlangobe and Gordon (2012), Culturally Responsive Leadership (CRL). The aim of this study was to build a professional profile of effective continuation school principals to help guide current practitioners, aid district leadership in identifying candidates best suited to lead their continuation schools, and how to train future leaders. Data was collected via interviews with nine principals of model continuation schools, the highest honor such a school can receive from the California Department of Education (2022a). Data showed that the study participants embodied many of the tenets set forth in CRL, but were not as strong in specific modeling and fostering cultural responsiveness in others. As described earlier, the opportunities for professional growth and collaboration across schools and principals is not well developed statewide. This area for growth is one of the most substantial opportunities the continuation school community has to improve professional practices and improve learning outcomes for all students across the state of California.