Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Particia A. Lowry, Ph.D, Chair; Edward Kujawa Jr., PhD; Jerry Ammer, PhD


alternative education, historical case study, Garfield Senior High School (San Diego, CA), Leadership studies, parents & parenting, Pregnant Minor Program, Sexual abuse, teen pregnancy


The researcher conducted an historical case study of the Garfield High School Pregnant Minor Program (1975–1999) which is one of three pregnant minor programs in the San Diego Unified School District. The primary purpose of this study was to provide data about the history and background of this program which may be significant to the decision makers who develop policies regarding pregnant minor programs in the district. The second purpose of the study was to provide data which may be helpful to community members, educators, policy makers, and student-parents about the issues and problems faced by students-parents which would, hopefully, lead to policies and procedures which better publicize the services available to student-parents. A review of the literature included the historical underpinnings of services to pregnant minors in the United States, the connection to special education, and the incipient integration into the public schools beginning in the late 1960s. Additionally, an overview of pregnant minor programs in California enriched the data, and provided a base of comparison to the Garfield High School context. The methodology of this historical case study utilized the three-part typology of Maxwell (1992) which necessitated data acquisition in a descriptive, interpretive, and theoretical format. The researcher gathered relevant district and site documents regarding the program. Additionally, the researcher conducted observations of the pregnant minor program, ancillary services, including those for the Teen Dad, child care, medical support, counseling, Pregnant Minor Support Group, and instructional programs. The foregoing data was supplemented with interviews of the current director of the pregnant minor program, the director of alternative education for the SDUSD, the former principals of Garfield High School, and most of the present and former teachers in the program. The study yielded the conclusion that the issue of teenage pregnancy had been politicized and enmeshed in a litany of social, ethical, and economic factors. Furthermore, the mere mention of the term evokes a wide range of intellectual and emotional fixations on the socially unacceptable act that resulted in the pregnancy, rather than the attendant needs of the pregnant teenager, and the birth of a healthy baby. Additionally, the linkage of teenage pregnancy to race and low-education appeared to be merely the characteristics that emanate from the context of the economic circumstances those teens and their babies inherit. One of the most disturbing trends within the issue of teenage pregnancies was the declining age of the mothers, 12–14, and the increasing predation by much older males with the majority of “fathers” well over 25 years old. Finally, the overwhelming evidential conclusion was that a majority of the teenage moms had been victims of child, and sexual abuse. It is hoped with this data as a foundation, that the discussion will evolve from one surrounding the immoral act to the requisite education and services needed. The primary recommendation of this study was that future researchers develop a movement towards building a theoretical Model Service Provider Program for Teen Parents. The construction of a theoretical model would present to researchers, educators, and service providers, dealing with pregnant teens, a data base and references for the development of teen parenting programs in order to provide a more consistent and relevant attention to the needs and the futures of these young families.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access