Ed.D. Dissertations

Date of Award

Fall 10-18-2018

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


College of Education



Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.

Faculty Chair

Floralba Arbelo, Ed.D.

Content Specialist

Amanda Sailors, Ed.D.

Content Reader

LaToya Thomas, Ed.D.


leader-member exchange, leadership support, servant leadership, special education teachers


Turnover and retention among special education teachers (SETs) continues to be a problem for many school districts. Studies suggest that the leadership approach of school leaders is a key factor influencing SETs’ decision to stay or leave their jobs. This qualitative phenomenological case study was designed to gain a better understanding of eight SETs’ experiences with their school leadership. In-depth one-to-one interviews, focus group interviews, and participant journaling were employed to collect rich narratives of SETs’ lived experiences. The data gathered from this study clearly showed that servant leadership, in which leaders are attuned to the emotional and professional needs of their followers, fostered strong leader-member exchange (LMX). Thus, selfless, relational, and holistic leadership behaviors affected SETs’ workplace experiences and influenced their workplace longevity.