Increasing the Black Leaders’ Opportunities to Serve as Public-School Superintendents in Minnesota

Degree Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education



First Advisor

Ric Dressen


This case study lifts the voices of Black superintendents’ experiences who had or currently serve as public school superintendents in Minnesota. Three research questions guided this case study: (1) What experiences do Minnesota's Black public-school superintendents recognize as beneficial and/or limiting in gaining their superintendent's license? (2) What do Minnesota's Black licensed superintendents recognize as supports and/or barriers in ascending to the superintendency? and (3) What experiences do Minnesota's Black superintendents recognize as valuable and/or challenging in completing their responsibilities as a public-school superintendent?

Semi-structured interviews were conducted to explore the lived experiences in their pursuit of the superintendency and their journey while serving. Specifically, attention was given to the participant's belief of how, if at all, race impacted the way they made sense of their experiences, received, or needed support, and shaped their leadership style. Additionally, this research looked to understand how these superintendents perceived their behaviors while serving as school superintendents. Through the interviews I gained access to the lived experiences of Black superintendents who served and currently serve in Minnesota.

The data collection and the analysis of the participants revealed that race has an everyday implicit and explicit role in daily encounters with school personnel. The study also revealed barriers to the superintendency and whether race played a role in attaining said positions. The participants shared their experiences and how they overcame insurmountable obstacles and offered considerations and recommendations for Black leaders aspiring to serve as district superintendents in Minnesota. The participants also had the opportunity to encourage other Black educators to get into the superintendent pipeline. Finally, this study revealed narratives that captured instances of micro aggressions and perceived racism by these school superintendents. Recommendations for further consideration include strategic mentor and support opportunities, intentional prior experiences, racial consciousness, board relations, and connections to search firms.

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