Date of Award

Fall 12-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Educational Leadership

Committee Director

Jay P. Scribner

Committee Member

Karen L. Sanzo

Committee Member

John W. Baaki


This qualitative case study examined one school superintendent’s handling of a sociopolitical crisis event over the course of its phased unfolding. A review of literature in the fields of both crisis management and social justice educational leadership supplied a conceptual lens for viewing the case. Key concepts from the crisis management literature included staged intervention, organizational learning, and transformative leadership. Key concepts from the literature of social justice educational leadership included criticality, inclusion, relationshipbuilding, and capacity-building. The study methodology involved the conduct of 17 interviews and collection of more than 100 related documents. Analysis of the data supported a series of findings treating the nature of crisis, the phenomenon of crisis optimization, and the classification of social justice initiatives. The findings supported the development of propositions toward a theory of crisis optimization for social justice realization. Crisis is concluded to be a recognitive event that leadership can leverage toward the realization of retributive justice. Researchers in both management and educational leadership fields will find relevance in this crossover study. There is ample opportunity for replication and extension of the study’s several findings. Educational leadership practitioners will also find implications for their work, that is strategies for managing crisis and advancing social justice in their organizations. At the present time of worldwide volatility around issues of public health and race relations, this study offers a hopeful perspective on opportunity present in the convergence of crisis management and educational leadership.


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