Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

First Advisor

Gary Sehorn, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Dane Joseph, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Jay Mathisen, Ed.D.


The intent of this qualitative multiple case study is to explore the lived experiences of two different school leaders that have lived through the same polarizing contentious political experience. One of these leaders self-identified as liberal and the other as conservative. More specifically, the purpose is to identify similarities and differences in the strategies these school leaders utilized as they navigated the political challenges so as to bring partisan, polarized groups together – while still maintaining a quality instructional program for their students. The narratives of these two school leaders were captured through semi-structured in-depth interviews and two political survey tools. Each participant shared their lived experience of the polarizing event: a school district implementing a policy in accordance with a state law that allows
transgender students access to their locker rooms of choice. Narratives were crafted and common themes emerged. These narratives were viewed through the lenses of The Moral Foundations Theory, Culture War Theory, Political Ideology, and conflict management. Stakeholder reaction, political polarization, conflict, collusion, mindset, and civility are discussed. Further research is
suggested in which the number of participants is expanded so as to further discover like and unlike narratives and to compare different socially polarizing topics. This research suggests it is important for the leader to be prepared not only for how to look at a conflict, but more importantly, for how to look at the people in a conflict

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