Campus Location

Dallas Campus (Online)

Date of Award


Document Type



Organizational Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Julie M. Lane

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Christie Bledsoe

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Janice Peronto


Several barriers exist that impact campus administrators’ use of special education needs coordinators (SENCOs) as change agents. Using grounded theory, this study aimed to understand the barriers that exist for campus administrators regarding their ability to support special education programs and how principals use SENCOs as change agents. The study was conducted on a secondary campus with participants engaging in participatory action research (PAR) within a professional learning community. Data was collected using a triangulation of PAR forms, interviews, and reflective journals. While the study focused on understanding the barriers that impact administrators utilizing their SENCOs as campus leaders, the qualitative descriptive study also provided a platform for administrators to employ SENCOs as campus leaders to support change. The PAR group members worked collaboratively on the research site to identify barriers that limited SENCO leadership opportunities to act as campus leaders. They also identified ways administrators can support relationship-building opportunities with their SENCO to support change. The PAR group then analyzed leadership through the leader–member exchange and transformational leadership models, focusing on how administrators interact with their SENCOs to support change. The study found that due to a lack of special education background knowledge and time available on campus, administrators need help engaging in relationship-building practices with their SENCOs, thus limiting SENCO development and leadership opportunities. The researcher concluded that campus administrators have acknowledged they are not adequately prepared to lead special education programming, thus relying on the SENCO to manage special education processes, with limited administrator input on best practices. The study found that administrators face significant challenges in building relationships with their SENCOs due to campus roles and responsibilities. Previous studies have shown that administrators need help understanding SENCO needs and job roles; this study found that administrators need to be proactive to engage in purposeful relationship-building practices to support SENCOs as change agents. This study found that PAR effectively creates a forum where teachers can serve as change agents.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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