Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Kathleen Bushman


A superintendent is vital to the success of school districts. Stability of an individual in this position is important for building trust and morale for district personnel over time. Small school districts in a large southern state have experienced increased rates of voluntary or involuntary superintendent succession, having had 2 or more superintendent changes within a 6-year period. Participative leadership theory served as the framework for this study. The guiding questions for this study investigated the impact of frequent superintendent succession in small school districts and the levels of trust and morale among district personnel. The variables for the study were superintendent succession between the years 2005 and 2011 and personnel trust and morale. Data were collected from Frequent Superintendent Turnover in Small School Districts and Impact on Personnel Trust and Morale surveys. Quantitative analysis of the survey data was conducted using the Spearman Rho correlation coefficient and chi-square analysis. Key findings indicated a significant relationship between frequent superintendent succession and decreased personnel trust and no significant relationship between morale of personnel. Chi-square correlation for trust showed a correlation to turnover and morale showed no correlation. It is recommended that districts provide training for school boards on the impact of frequent superintendent succession with an emphasis on administrative stability to enhance morale and trust among personnel. These actions could contribute to positive social change by building leadership capacity and sustaining high levels of morale and trust among district personnel.