Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Judith A. Aiken


In 2006, the Vermont School Board's Association launched a pilot implementation of Policy Governance® in four Vermont school districts. Policy Governance is a coherent governance model that requires boards to establish policy in four policy quadrants (Carver, 2006). Key features of Policy Governance include the clear delineation of roles and responsibilities between a board and its CEO and the articulation of Ends policies which describe the desired outcomes for the organization from a future-oriented perspective (Carver, 2006). These characteristics of Policy Governance are in many ways antithetical to traditional Vermont public school governance practices which are grounded in a long-standing tradition of local control (Cate, 2006). This study focused on the experiences of the four superintendents involved in the 2006 pilot implementation of Policy Governance in Vermont as they attempted to reconcile the coherence of Policy Governance with local school board practices. The purpose of the study was to understand the beliefs and perceptions of these superintendents about Policy Governance, and to understand to what extent Policy Governance implementation created ethical dilemmas for their leadership. A series of in-depth interviews was conducted with the superintendents, and data from the interviews were analyzed using a narrative inquiry approach. The findings of this study suggest superintendent beliefs and perceptions about Policy Governance can be categorized into three themes: responsibility, trust, and vision. Using a theoretical ethical framework based on the work of Starratt (2003, 2004), a further analysis of the findings suggested a series of ethical dilemmas were confronted by the superintendents when implementing Policy Governance. These dilemmas included: developing an organizational vision through ends policies which transfer control over vision from the superintendent to the school board, assisting school boards with engaging their communities in the development of ends policies while at the same time ensuring those ends meet the moral purposes of schooling in serving the needs of all students and the larger public good, enforcing a clear delineation of roles and responsibilities while also serving a school board in its work, and assuming responsibility for transforming school systems to meet the future needs of students while at the same time supporting the success of students and educators in the current organizational structures. This study concluded that Policy Governance can provide an intellectual and practical framework for educational leaders to engage in the necessary ethical action to ensure the success of public schooling in postmodern society.



Number of Pages

107 p.