Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ed.D.

Degree Granting Department

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Major Professor

William R. Black

Keywords

Politics of school leadership, Principal leadership, school closure, School consolidation

Abstract

Abstract

Educational leaders must operate in a complex political world that places a premium on skills and strategies involving consensus building, negotiations, and reciprocity. This dissertation is about the leadership struggles and tensions inherent in a school consolidation process. The principals highlighted in this study represent the leader of a metropolitan school which is closed and consolidated with another school in the same school district. The school district employs a defined and planned process to address many issues inherent in a school consolidation like guaranteed placement of displaced teachers in schools of their choice.

I examined the experiences of three principals during the course of the school consolidation to determine if there are any advantages in using a pre-planned consolidation to ensure the success of the consolidation process. My experiences as a principal involved in a school consolidation experience without a defined and pre-negotiated consolidation protocols was used to draw contrasts when interview data was analyzed from the three school principals. To guide my data collection and analysis I used a conceptual framework based on the work of Mead (1934), Husserl (1965), Blumer (1969), Stryker (2002) and Merleau-Ponty (2004), Interpretivism with a case study paradigm based on the work of Hancock and Algozzine (2006), Creswell (2003), Yin (2003) and Miles and Huberman (1994) to guide my study which was aimed at understanding the experiences of school principals during a school consolidation.

The initial findings of my study indicated that the experiences for most stakeholders impacted by a consolidation were consistent with those found in the literature concerning other consolidation experiences. There was some minimal reduction in the perceived levels of uncertainty and anxiety of staff members concerning their employment status. The principals had certain assignments related to the logistical planning and management of resource security and allocation removed from their agenda, but leadership experiences remained fraught with uncertainty and a sense of trial and error in navigating through the processes required for a successful consolidation experience.

This study provided several insights that may be useful to school principals in managing and seeking appropriate assistance from district level leadership to improve the probability that the level of success in a school consolidation may affect various stakeholder groups impacted by the experience. The findings discuss several implications regarding how school principals and school districts may consider the overall impact of a school consolidation on their students and their stance regarding equity and social justice for all the school's communities. Finally, this study provides several recommendations for policy and educational practice.

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