Educational Administration, Department of


Date of this Version



A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Educational Studies, Under the Supervision of Professor Marilyn L. Grady. Lincoln, Nebraska: December, 2014

Copyright (c) 2014 Tanya Sue Hilligoss


School principals are responsible for supervising educational staff. Since the majority of students who are deaf or hard of hearing are served in public schools, it is important for principals to understand how to supervise teachers of the deaf. The purpose of this study was to explore the role of school principals who supervise teachers of the deaf in public schools in the United States.

In this mixed methods study, data was collected separately and sequentially, using an explanatory sequential design. Information was gathered from state-level personnel using a web-based survey for quantitative data. Data collected included: a) number of students in special education, b) number of students identified as deaf or hard of hearing, and c) number of public school building principals. Attempts were made to gather data from all fifty states by grade level for each group—elementary, middle, and secondary. To gather qualitative data, in-depth interviews were conducted with three school principals and one special education director at their respective building sites. Three in-vivo themes emerged from the findings: “A Good Navigator,” “ I’m There,” and “It’s a Win-Win.”

The findings of the study may be useful for principals who supervise teachers of the deaf, administrators who supervise programs for students who are deaf or hard of hearing, higher education institutions who are preparing future school principals, and teachers of the deaf.

Advisor: Marilyn Grady