Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Educational Administration



Major Professor

Dr. Brian Beabout



This study explored school leaders and how they perceive and use autonomy to operate a school. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to better understand the lived experiences of school leaders and how they perceive and use their autonomy while operating a charter school in New Orleans, Louisiana. There is relatively little documentation on the perceptions of how school leaders feel they use and balance their autonomy when operating a charter school. This study builds upon the current and past research which regards principal autonomy as a driver of the success of charter schools and school quality. Consequently, the theoretical framework for this study is rooted in the current literature on school autonomy, school leadership and organizational decision -making.

This study used a purposeful sample of 10 New Orleans school leaders who have worked in both a traditional and charter school setting. A descriptive phenomenological research design was used to describe the lived experiences of the Charter School Leaders. Unstructured in-depth phenomenological interviews supplemented by written communication and field notes will be used. Interviews will be conducted, tape-recorded, transcribed, and then analyzed. The results of this study suggests that school leaders believe that with autonomy over school operations, curricula, and finances, they are able to fulfill the school’s vision and mission and operate schools better. School leaders derived more job satisfaction when they worked in charter schools than when they worked in a traditional school setting.


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