Date of Award

August 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Urban Education

First Advisor

Barbara Bales

Second Advisor

Decoteau Irby

Committee Members

Leigh Wallace, Elise Frattura, Rajeswari Swaminathan


Black Students, Critical Race Theory, Culturally Responsive Leadership, Equity, Opportunity Gap, Superintendents


The purpose of this study was to analyze the stories shared by superintendents in a Midwestern state about how they approached the work of developing more equitable learning environments for Black students. The study examined the dispositions of the superintendents, the actions taken by the superintendents in each school district, and the influence of the district environment on the superintendents’ ability to carry out their work. A qualitative, multiple case study approach was used to conduct interviews and gather public documents and data from eight superintendents working in academically high performing, suburban school districts. The findings revealed that the eight superintendents possessed dispositions in alignment with the teachers and leaders identified in the research and literature on Culturally Relevant Practices. The superintendents’ actions focused on increased engagement with Black families, challenging the status quo in the educational system, and educating teachers, students and community members on Culturally Relevant Practices. The political climate of the district and issues of White Privilege factored the superintendents’ ability to carry out the work of creating equitable learning environments for Black students. Future studies should consider the examination of superintendent preparation programs as it relates to the development of culturally relevant dispositions and actions and the interactions between superintendents leading work around equity and their relationships with their school board and community members.