Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Mareen Ellis


Recent charter school enrollment trends suggest that a growing number of parents have opted to transfer their children from neighborhood public schools into charter schools, despite data indicating public school achievement equal to or above charter schools. This trend encourages school leaders to examine parent choice. The purpose of this qualitative study was to gather perspectives from parents in the study community who chose to enroll their children in charter schools instead of public schools and identify reasons parents chose charter schools. The humanistic theories of Maslow and Rogers, which emphasized the importance of choice, creativity, values, and self-realization as considerations for parent choice, formed the conceptual framework. Qualitative data were collected through an electronic questionnaire from 84 parents who have chosen 1 of 2 charter schools, designed to gather demographic information as well as perceptions about the processes and determinant factors involved in making school enrollment choices. Individual semi-structured interviews using a purposeful sample were conducted with 7 parents to determine their perceptions about choosing charter schools instead of traditional public schools. Data analysis included open coding and identification of emergent themes. The findings suggested criteria that parents considered in addition to standardized accountability measures as part of the school choice process. The resulting project included a professional development seminar for public educators in the local community to understand the public school choice marketplace, a marketing plan for their school, and follow-up implementation coaching. This study may contribute to social change through educators' increased understanding of competition in public education and the development of best practices to improve public schools and student enrollments.