Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Theory, Policy, and Practice

Document Type



Hurricanes Katrina and Rita posed serious challenges to school systems as children displaced by the storms attended schools across Louisiana and in most of the states of the Union. This qualitative case study examined the administrative challenges of one school district that received over 6,800 new students in less than a month. Research questions posed in the study focused on the planning, placement, and support of displaced students, the leadership of the superintendent and principals in integrating displaced students into the district and schools, which problems arose, and whether any policies or procedures were changed as a result hurricane-induced mobility. An oral history methodology was used to examine the problem from an organizational learning perspective. The case study utilized an embedded single case design to examine the efforts of the central office and several schools to integrate thousands of students into the district. Two distinct leadership styles emerged as driving forces in shaping the responses at the central office and within the schools. Evidence of transformative leadership practices combined with practices focused on maintenance of the status quo and attention to administrative detail served to stabilize the district through the year. Although no permanent administrative changes resulted that year the district and schools evidenced great flexibility in taking on temporary duties, satisfying state and federal mandates, and addressing the needs of the displaced families. District and school staff managed to create a welcoming, inclusive climate with clear expectations of high achievement for all students, both displaced and indigenous. Test scores in several of the study schools declined, but the average school performance scores of the district improved. The single greatest problem faced by the district was the mobility of students during the year. Recommendations for practice and a model of crisis planning are proposed. A model of emergent themes from the data suggests similar patterns across schools and the district office.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

MacGregor, S. Kim



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Education Commons