Date of Award

Spring 5-8-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Jami Berry

Second Advisor

Sheryl Cowart Moss

Third Advisor

Yinying Wang

Fourth Advisor

James Kahrs


Purpose: This study aimed to analyze a school culture’s response to the principal creating an inclusion program for students with disabilities. The present study specifically analyzed the principal’s traits of social justice leadership and how she applied them to fostering an inclusion program. The study also examined the principal’s actions to create an inclusion program and the characteristics of the school culture.

Method and Analysis: The study was conducted at one southeastern, urban K-5 public elementary school in a large school district. A case study design was used to guide data collection in a systemic manner and grounded theory was used to guide data analysis. Multiple data sources were collected through semi-structured interviews, observations, and a review of artifacts. Open coding, axial coding, and selective coding strategies were utilized to allow for emerging categories with which a constant comparative analysis was used to compare against existing theoretical frameworks.

Findings: The following unique emergent categories were identified (a) equity mindset (b) exceeding minimal compliance and (c) tiered support system. Discussion of the findings, implications for research and practice, and limitations of the results are provided. Suggestions for future inquiry are also included.