Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education



First Advisor

Dr. Robert Steffes

Second Advisor

Dr. Beth Rapoff

Third Advisor

Dr. Donna Jahnke


Ethical decision making impacts every school leader; 100% of interview participants in this study recognized that they made ethical decisions at least daily. This study was designed to identify if there was a gap in ethical knowledge, trainings, supports and practices and then investigated the knowledge, trainings, supports and practices that were in place to support currently practicing elementary leaders. The researcher sent surveys to elementary principals in the state of Missouri and shared the survey via social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The researcher also asked survey participants to participate in a one-on-one interview to gather more information. The study found a variety of ways in which leaders had been trained to handle ethical dilemmas and how they were supported by universities and school districts. A majority of their training happened in a university education program through conversations embedded within a course. Over 82% of participants agreed or strongly agreed that there was in fact a gap in ethical knowledge, trainings, supports or practices. The biggest gap was in supports and practices available to these leaders. At the time of the study, the most common forms of supports or practices in place were collaboration with colleagues or mentors and the use of board policies to support their decisions. The intent of this study was to provide more information to universities and school districts around the country to better equip their leaders with the skills needed to make the ethical decisions.


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