Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Learning and Instruction


Learning & Instruction EdD

First Advisor

Robert Burns

Second Advisor

Kevin Oh

Third Advisor

Larry Brewster


This study examined the communication between sending court and community schools of a County Office of Education’s (COE) Alternative Education program and the receiving juvenile detention facility of a county in a Western state and how the communication between the two facilities affected the level of special education services provided to incarcerated youth, specifically the occurrence of 30-day placement IEPs. The juvenile detention facility was selected as a site because it was a lighthouse program, one of the few chosen to pilot the juvenile detention alternatives initiative (JDAI). JDAI sought to lower the number of incarcerated youth through viable alternatives and have a focus on interagency collaboration to better serve the myriad needs of the youth incarcerated within the facility.

A mixed methods descriptive approach was used in the study with six different instruments used for data collection; 1) intake and exit sheets, 2) questionnaires, 3) formal interviews, 4) researcher field notes, 5) photographs, and 6) observations, document collection, and informal interviews. The instruments were administered over a 90-day period, with intake/exit sheets ceasing after a 60-day period. The remaining 30 days were used to conduct formal interviews with administrators for both programs and to assess the 30-day placement IEPs that took place.

This study yielded three main findings: 1) the intake process at the juvenile detention facility is not procedurally consistent and lacks a thorough educational history component, 2) there is a limited level of interagency collaboration between the COE and juvenile detention facility, and 3) incarcerated youth with special education services are not receiving their 30-day placement IEPs.

These findings are indicative of a continuum of barriers that still persist in providing special education services for incarcerated youth. Despite implementing policies and procedures to facilitate intake and interagency communication, issues with intake procedures and interagency communication still persisted and interfered with a lighthouse juvenile detention facility providing the incarcerated youth the special education services required by law.

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