The varied academic needs of students with learning disabilities throughout the U.S. and in Southern California, specifically, have driven demand for private learning centers. For the purposes of this study, a learning center refers to a private business that teaches primary and secondary school students with learning disabilities outside of the school system. However, these centers often struggle with business success and the retention of employees and clients. Little research exists to address this topic. Therefore, there is a need to explore strategies to sustain these centers for students with learning disabilities. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore strategies used by a successful K-12 learning center for students with learning disabilities in Southern California to sustain their business. Data was collected from interviews with four employees, observations from four visits, and seven types of archival data. The data were analyzed and grouped into the five deductive themes found in the literature review: training, relationships, innovation, structure, and customer development. Five new inductively developed themes resulted from the analysis of the data: Theme 1: Engaging in closed-loop communication with all stakeholders; Theme 2: Taking a holistic approach to student improvement; Theme 3: Providing differentiated instruction for a personalized experience; Theme 4: Engaging in a growth mindset; Theme 5: Setting an intention for the learning center to follow. Aspects such as innovation, flexibility, and intentionality proved to be beneficial to improving student outcomes and sustaining a learning center. Three conclusions were made from the study: Conclusion 1: A learning center can be sustained through a focus on the five literature themes of training, relationships, innovation, structure, and customer development; Conclusion 2: Flexibility allows for individualization, and continual improvement; Conclusion 3: Learning centers seeking a competitive advantage should focus on innovation.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Leadership, administration, and policy; Students with disabilities -- Services for -- California, Southern; Classroom learning centers -- California, Southern -- Case studies

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Thompson, Paula;