Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Chukwuemeka Eleweke


As mandated in Maryland public schools, principals cannot suspend students for infractions coded in the categories of disrespect and insubordination. To manage these behaviors, teachers need effective supports from educational leaders. The purpose of this case study was to explore a possible relationship between administrative supports and special education office referrals for disrespect and insubordination at a rural East Coast 8-12 school. The administration provided differentiated professional development by offering options that would meet the varied needs of teachers for classroom management. The theoretical foundation for this study was Maslow's hierarchy of needs, which was used to assess teachers' needs for safety and acceptance to move towards self-fulfillment, one's ability to critically problem solve. Two research questions were used to examine the influence of providing differentiated teacher resources on special education discipline referrals for disrespect and insubordination. The site school also presented results from voluntary, anonymous surveys that asked teachers about their use of classroom management strategies for various behaviors. In the case study, the researcher triangulated quantitative data of office referral rates and archival survey results with qualitative open-responses from the archival survey. For the outcome, the researcher identified themes that represented needs of teachers. The researcher concluded that administrators needed to be empathetic in how they provide teacher supports. The study findings resulted in a project involving training for principals, which included strategies for empathic leadership to better support their teachers. The findings and project outcome may contribute to positive social change by helping to improve classroom management strategies and add to teacher-administrator relationships.