Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Virginia P. Foley

Committee Members

Pamela H. Scott, Eric S. Glover, Cecil N. Blankenship


This qualitative study was conducted in 3 school systems in East Tennessee by interviewing special education directors, school principals, and teachers. The purpose of this study was to identify administrators who are successful in meeting the needs of special education students and determine characteristics they possess that facilitate success. The grounded theory study employed purposeful sampling and the snowball sampling method. It also included the use of a pilot study to refine the interview protocol. This study includes the characteristics of effective principals as perceived by the special education directors, principals, and teachers. Although some variety of conclusions existed within and among the three groups, this study fulfilled that purpose by identifying several characteristics of principals who are effective in meeting needs of special education students. These characteristics include: having direct contact with special education students, taking responsibility for special education students, serving as an instructional leader, building relationships with parents, and having a high degree of competency in addressing the needs of special education students, providing services, and helping develop programs that meet the needs of children with disabilities. This study is significant because it provides direction and specific information to administrators and teachers on the characteristics of effective administrations regarding students with disabilities that they can use to improve their leadership skills and guide their employment decisions.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.