Date of Award

1-30-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)

Department

Professional Studies in Education

First Advisor

Jennifer Rotigel, D.Ed.

Second Advisor

Cathy C. Kaufman, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

George Bieger, Ph.D.

Abstract

Charter schools have been developed and established for decades. With nearly 6,000 charter schools across the United States and more than 550 in Pennsylvania alone, hundreds-of-thousands of students are attending public charter schools from preschool through high school graduation. Over the past several years the Pennsylvania Department of Education, and states across the country, have continued to modify the process for applying, establishing, and renewing charter schools. This study describes three individuals who founded charter schools in an attempt to shed light on their leadership qualities, motivations for founding a charter school, struggles and triumphs, and to provide recommendations for others who will follow their lead. The three case studies described in this study are currently serving as leaders in their charter schools in Pennsylvania. Current research and literature have identified the elements of evidence-based practices regarding school leadership practices. Legislation has provided the regulations, which govern the fiscal responsibilities of charter schools as well as the application and renewal process. This study found that the sample of school founders and leaders varied in their educational and professional experiences prior to the opening of their charter schools; however, they each have a sense of urgency to provide educational equality and innovation. Data identified supports and barriers to charter school application and renewal found among the leaders. Charter leaders who align their student's academic experiences with the mission and vision of the school continuously find support from parents, teachers, and stakeholders. Supports for successful application and renewal of charters included; maintaining working relationships with the school districts, a supportive founding board, parents and other community stakeholders. Barriers to maintaining charter schools included ever-changing regulations, legislation related to finances, parental concerns, and variability with operating budgets due to the number of students enrolled from local school districts. Charter schools that were able to collaborate for various student supports were able to financially pool resources that they would not otherwise be able to do independently. Charter schools that exhibited working relationships with local school districts found a higher level of charter renewal and collaboration.

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