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Title:Responding to loss: A case study on the school-wide response to the death of students in a high-needs urban high school
Author(s):Huff, Danielle A
Director of Research:Ward Hood, Denice
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Ward Hood, Denice
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Pak, Yoon; Huang, Wenhao David; Span, Christopher
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Student death
Abstract:The purpose of this study was to explore the beliefs, knowledge, attitudes, and opinions of classroom teachers, social emotional support staff, non-instructional support staff, and administrators concerning the communication and actions intended to support students following the deaths of several students at BSHS during the 2018-2019 school year. During the 2018-2019 school year, Brighter Side High School (BSHS) experienced four student deaths. The effects of structural racism and intergenerational poverty ensure that bereavement and grief are familiar realities in these schools. There is limited empirical analysis on how guidance for a supportive school wide response to the death of a student in a high-needs urban high school that serves predominantly Black students would differ from existing guidance and research. This study addressed three questions: (1) What value do high school staff place in a school wide plan to support grieving and bereaved students? (2) What universal and targeted actions are effective in supporting grieving and bereaved students? (3) How prepared are school staff to adequately support grieving and bereaved students? This qualitatitive case study used document analysis and semi-structured group interviews to explore guidance, policy, experiences, thoughts, and feelings surrounding the communication and actions of Brighter Side High School and District following the deaths of students during the 2018-2019 school year. The Critical Race Theory Framework for Educational Policy Analysis was used to analyze existing guidance and policy and counter-stories were used to analyze communication and actions, with critical race theory being the theoretical framework that supports this study. Document analysis and semi-structured group interviews led to four emerging themes that can guide the development of a school-wide plan: (1) time and space for grieving with peers; (2) relationships with trusted adults on Crisis Intervention Team; (3) training and resources;( 4) communication with staff and students; and (5) support for grieving staff. Coordination of a plan should be framed by policy and guided by an administrator’s understanding that inadequacies in the support given to students will manifest in academic performance, attendance rates, school discipline, and the overall well-being of the student population.
Issue Date:2020-05-01
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Danielle A. Huff
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-08-27
Date Deposited:2020-05

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