Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Paul Rutledge


Increasing numbers of Florida parents are withdrawing their children from traditional public schools in highly-rated school districts to enroll them in tuition-free, startup, charter schools. Since not all parents have equal access or are as equally motivated to elect school choice alternatives, the fiscal sustainability of the traditional public school system is at risk. Using Schattschneider's policy feedback process as a model, the purpose of this research was to gain an in depth understanding of the role policy perception plays on the decision-making process by parents. Data for this qualitative single-case study were collected through interviews with 8 charter school parents residing in a single top-performing Florida public school district. All data were inductively coded and then subjected to a thematic analysis procedure. Key findings indicated that participants elected school choice based on perceptions that diminished curricular rigor and diminished classroom safety are the direct result of the classroom compositions found in a general education classroom in a traditional public school. The participants opined that the inability of traditional public schools to adequately accommodate for the diverse abilities of students placed in general education classrooms in accordance with current policy results in higher-achieving students being disenfranchised. The social change significance is showing how parental perception of existing policy impacts school choice election, thus providing guidance to lawmakers about legislative reforms that could limit the school choice migration and secure the viability of traditional public schools for those children limited in school choice options.