Debra Delaine

Date of Award





Doctor of Education

Degree Type



Counseling, Foundations & Leadership

First Advisor

Jennifer Brown

Second Advisor

Tom McCormack

Third Advisor

Jeff Conklin


The transformative role of the school principal has been the topic among several states for almost 40 years. Researchers have documented the disconnect between educational leadership programs and real-world experiences for principals. The push continues for principals to move away from solely focusing on the managerial aspects of the job to becoming the instructional leaders of their building with an emphasis on student outcomes, which has caused a sense of urgency among principals and educational leadership preparation programs. Students with disabilities were typically the responsibility of the special education director, until the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act. Principals were now being held accountable for all students. Using a causal comparative quantitative research design, this study included 105 principals from elementary, middle, and high schools in the states of Georgia and Illinois. The study measured principals’ attitudes and beliefs about supporting students with disabilities in the general education setting based on their educational leadership preparation programs. The data were collected using a survey and were analyzed utilizing a series of one-way ANOVAs. The results indicated statistically significant differences between principals who participated in educational leadership programs with concentrated special education course work and principals who did not participate in educational leadership programs with concentrated special education course work in the broad areas of federal legislative knowledge, contextual knowledge, and foundational knowledge. The findings of this study could lead to educational leadership programs in Georgia incorporating more concentrated special education courses for aspiring principals.