Date of Award


Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Elizabeth C. Reilly

Second Advisor

Maurice Ghysels

Third Advisor

Ayinde Rudolph


The underrepresentation of African Americans in the superintendency and lack of equitable access to the superintendency in K-12 public school districts across the United States is a problem of significant concern. This qualitative study explores the perceptions of 17 African American superintendents with the recruitment, selection, and promotion process to the superintendency while examining how the role of race, racism, sexism, and discrimination contribute to the underrepresentation of African American superintendents. The career and employment experiences of African American superintendents via semi-structured interviews is how this study extrapolates data to answer the research question. Thematic analysis based on narrative inquiry is utilized to report the findings of the data. This research study utilizes the frameworks of critical race theory and Asante’s (2009) 5 principles of the Afrocentric method for generating knowledge as a lens for analyzing and making sense of the data. Findings indicate significance with regards to the effects of racism, sexism, prejudice, and discrimination by school boards and search firms with the recruitment, selection, and promotion process for both aspiring and current African American superintendents. Additional findings of significance include the skillful knowledge and use of political acumen, contract negotiations, social justice leadership, mentoring, networking, and spirituality. The findings support the need to educate school boards, search firms, universities, professional educational leadership networking organizations on the local, state, and national level, as well as aspiring and current African American superintendents about how to increase equitable access and longevity both to and within the superintendency.