Date of Award

January 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Gary L. Schnellert


Many people believe that teachers in public education cannot be dismissed. Teachers can be dismissed, but it is a difficult and stressful process. However, some principals are able to guide teachers to voluntarily exit a school system without going through the dismissal process. The literature suggests that many principals believe there are many impediments when attempting to remove a teacher deemed less than competent. This qualitative study examined what successful principals do to remove teachers who have not met a minimum competency according to district expectations. Ten North Dakota principals, who have successfully guided teachers out of a school system from elementary and secondary public schools, were interviewed to share their stories and learn what strategies, processes, and other support systems were factors in their successes. Three factors emerged from the data: mentors, straight talk, and experience built confidence. Mentors worked closely with principals as they moved through the process providing information on the documentation process, remediation steps, and the timelines and procedural aspects of preparing for a school board dismissal hearing. Straight talk was respectful but direct conversations from principals to teachers about what the teacher was not doing, or what needed to change. A principal's first experience increased the principal's confidence so that if deemed necessary, the principal could guide another teacher to a voluntary exit. These ten principals didn't find the factors

noted in the literature as impediments; they were part of the process and didn't deter them from removing a less-than-competent teacher.