Decision-Making Process in The Face Of Uncertainty: School District Leaders During The Pandemic

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

Committee Chair

Valerie Storey

Committee Member

Dail Fields

Committee Member

Kim Campbell


The twenty-first-century school leader (district-level and building-level leaders) operates in a world where it is not only the result of educational decision-making that matters but also the process of decision-making. Current accountability regimes focus on the process just as much as the product, and the exponential growth of accountability in education suggests that process will increasingly be at the forefront of education leaders’ minds in the future. By utilizing a framework of turbulence theory and moral agency, this qualitative study first examined school district-level leaders’ decision-making process when faced with a “wicked problem.” Second, the research study sought to find differentiating characteristics of school district leaders who closed schools prior to a governor’s school closure state mandate. Third, the researcher examined the perceived effects of early school closure decisions as an outcome of COVID-19 on building-level leaders, teachers, and parents in the state of Georgia. Given the new and unexplored nature of the research problem, a bottom-up, narrative inquiry approach was adopted to investigate the lived experience of district and building level leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic and the early decision to close a school prior to the Governor’s school closure state mandate. Grounded on the study outcomes a strategic initiative action plan as well as the School District Leadership in Time of Crisis (SLTC) framework is presented.