Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 1-1-2006


Worldwide Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program for Education Leaders (IDPEL)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Helen C. Sobehart

Committee Member

Denise Anderson

Committee Member

Ronald Korenich


inclusion, Leadership, principals, spirituality, students with disabilities


This qualitative study explored the role of the principal in developing inclusive schools for students with disabilities. Leading an inclusive school is a significant departure from traditional schooling. An inclusive school is founded on a common mission and vision where all students are valued and everyone works collaboratively to insure that all children are educated and part of the school community. Five practicing principals in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania were studied within the context of their schools and practices. These five principals were identified by the Pennsylvania Department of Education as having developed and implemented schools where all students were valued and expected to be participating members. Case studies of the principals along with themes about their practice emerged. An inclusive school requires a leader to exhibit a number of skills and traits. However, this study suggests that exhibiting these skills and traits are not enough to explain the difference in an inclusive school. This study proposes spirituality is a needed element in order to inform or drive the leader's practice. Spirituality helps provide the explanation for why and how the principals were able to lead an inclusive school and why the principals remained focused during the change process. Spirituality may provide the entire school, but especially the principal, with the focus on relationships, reflection, and process that is needed to insure the vision of inclusive practices is realized.