Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Educational Leadership


Flanigan, Jackson L

Committee Member

Marion , Russell A

Committee Member

Katsiyannis , Antonis

Committee Member

Rogers , Pen L


Retaining qualified special educators has been a persistent challenge for school districts nationwide. Given that research findings have identified the presence of a supportive principal as a vital factor in the retention of special educators, it is imperative that this pressing issue be further examined. The purpose of this study was to examine differences in the perceptions of principals (ADM), general educators (GET), and special educators (SET) across nine schools in a South Carolina school district regarding what constitutes a supportive and collaborative school environment. Specifically, (a) do administrators, educators and special educators have different perceptions of the collaborative nature of their schools? and (b) do factors such as years of teaching experience and receiving educational leadership training influence perceptions of collaboration? Data were collected from building-level administrators (principals), general educators, and special educators from elementary, middle and high schools in the Pickens County school district of South Carolina. The data collection instrument was a combination of the Special Education Teacher Support Questionnaire and the LMX-MDM survey instrument along with six additional questions regarding years of teaching experience, subject matter taught, level taught, certification type, educational leadership training and educational level. Results were analyzed using a hierarchical linear model (HLM) method of statistical measurement in light of the Leader-Member Exchange theory (LMX). Results were non-conclusive regarding perceptions of the collaborative nature of their schools among special education teachers, general education teachers, and administrators. However, responses from teachers with the longest teaching experiences were more likely to agree with principal responses. In contrast, responses from teachers who indicated receiving educational leadership training were less likely to agree with principal responses.