Date of Award

January 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Sherryl Houdek


During the 2019 North Dakota legislative session (the 66th Legislative Assembly), Senate Bill 2149 was introduced to amend the North Dakota Century Code (NDCC) at Title 15.1 Elementary and Secondary Education, Chapter 07 School Districts, Section 34, which addresses behavioral health (including mental health) in an educational setting. This bill was enacted.The purpose of this flexible design qualitative study was to investigate experiences teachers, principals, and school counselors have had related to their students’ mental and behavioral health. Furthermore, this study investigated the perceptions North Dakota educators have had related to professional development on student behavioral health. Finally, this study investigated how North Dakota educators have perceived their experiences related to social emotional learning and mental health program implementation in their schools. This study was guided by ecological theory, which provides a framework for examining human behavior and development; ecological theory shows how environmental systems that people interact within can impact behavior and development. The study began with a Qualtrics survey of teachers, principals, and school counselors. Then, individual interviews and a focus group interview with elementary teachers, secondary teachers, elementary principals, secondary principals, and school counselors were (was) conducted. Educator perceptions identified several challenges in implementing Senate Bill 2149 legislation, including lack of personnel to provide mental health support for students, challenges in obtaining and implementing effective mental health curricula, and limited funding available for professional development time to support this legislation.