This qualitative study examined the dual leadership role of a charter school founder-administrator. The question asked, How do charter school leaders who serve as founders and administrators describe their experiences as academic and business leaders? A phenomenological approach and constructivist perspective supported a unique appreciation of the participants’ lived experiences. The researchers sought to understand how the participants experienced their sometimes conflicting, sometimes overlapping, and sometimes unique experiences. Participant interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim; the researchers coded the transcripts. Two core categories and 11 themes were identified. The findings suggest these administrator-founders share a common understanding of the uniqueness of their experiences in this dual role.


Charter Schools, Charter School Leadership, Nonprofit Charter School Management Organizations, For-Profit Educational Management Organizations, Accountability, Phenomenology

Author Bio(s)

Kathy A. Thomas, Ed.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Nova Southeastern University, Abraham S. Fischler College of Education. She has several years of teaching experience, working with children and youth in public and private classrooms, secure juvenile facilities, and residential treatment settings. She received her master’s degrees in education from Tufts University and criminal justice from Northeastern University, and her terminal degree in Child and Youth Studies at Nova Southeastern University. Her academic interests include: juvenile and social justice, child abuse and neglect, educating children and adolescents with learning disabilities, and qualitative research practices. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: thomask@nova.edu.

Candace H. Lacey, Ph.D. is a former fellow at the National Center for Education Statistics and Past-President of the Consortium of State and Regional Educational Associations SIG of the American Educational Research Association. Dr. Lacey has extensive experience as principal investigator conducting local, state, and national research including the evaluation of the Safe Schools/Healthy Students prevention grants in Palm Beach and Broward counties and the State of Florida’s Online Tobacco Education Grant. She has over 50 peer reviewed articles and has participated in over 100 presentations at peer-reviewed national, regional, and local conferences. Her publications and presentations have employed quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods designs. She has been nominated for the Florida Educational Research Association’s Distinguished Paper on two occasions, once for a quantitative study and once for a qualitative study. She has taught Measurement and Assessment, Methods of Inquiry, Survey Research, and Program Evaluation. All of the dissertations she has chaired at NSU have been awarded Outstanding Dissertation status. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: chlacey@bellsouth.net.

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