Date of Award

Spring 3-8-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Paul A. Naso

Second Advisor

Dr. Stephen Gould

Third Advisor

Dr. Jason Irizarry


Legal challenges to racial segregation and changes in the racial composition of many suburbs have altered the racial makeup of public schools in the United States. This phenomenological study looked at how principals in Predominately-White schools (PWS) and educator facilitators for a state desegregation program (DP) learn about the perceptions of students of color (SOC) in their schools, address negative perceptions of SOC, and attempt to support SOC; it also inquired about hindrances to their efforts to serve SOC more effectively. Thematic analysis of transcripts of interviews with five principals and four desegregation facilitators led to 10 findings. Critical Race Theory counterstories provided an alternative view of the phenomenon. Participants learn about the perceptions of SOC (a) through impromptu and proactive strategies, but (b) more often become aware after students’ involvement in conflicts. They respond to the negative perceptions of SOC (c) as intervening supervisors, institutional functionaries, or interpersonal facilitators. They support SOC with (d) strategies specifically planned for SOC; (e) use of existing structures to focus attention on SOC; and (f) professional development to inform teachers’ work with SOC. The hindrances to supporting SOC include (g) insufficient design of the DP and maladaptations by schools that disadvantage SOC and (h) stakeholder attitudes and discontinuities with students’ prior schooling. Participants identified needed changes: (i) DP guidance on how schools can help SOC gain a sense of belonging in their PWS, and (j) increased state oversight to compel participating districts to adaptively re-envision their schools. The findings indicate a need for the DP to provide explicit guidance for supporting SOC in PWS, and leadership development for principals in diverse school communities. The findings also suggest further study of the impact of attending PWS on the racial identity development and long-term self-perceptions of SOC.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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