Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education/Leadership in Urban Schools

First Advisor

John Leonard

Second Advisor

Joseph Check

Third Advisor

John D'Auria


The most prevalent type of school violence, bullying is now recognized by a wide range of educational stakeholders as a significant problem in schools around the world. Bullies and victims are at risk for serious psychosocial and behavioral difficulties such as truancy, poor academic achievement, school drop-out, substance use, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, suicide and violence. Bullying has been studied in a number of different ways including the effects of bullying on aggressors, victims and bystanders, drop-out rates, as well as the effectiveness of intervention programs designed to reduce bullying behavior in schools. Noticeably absent from the literature on the bullying problem (and arguably all school violence literature) is any serious look at the role of school leadership.

On May 3, 2010, following a number of high profile adolescent suicides directly related to bullying and internet cyber-bullying, the Massachusetts Legislature passed a comprehensive anti-bullying law M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O requiring school districts to develop and implement comprehensive bullying prevention and intervention plans. The law required districts to develop reporting protocols, age appropriate curriculum, and professional development to all school faculty, staff, including any outside contractor working directly with students. Through the lens of distributed leadership theory, this study provides an in-depth, fine-grained analysis of how leadership was practiced by members of a district wide, K-12 Bullying Prevention Advisory Committee (BPAC). In May, June, and July of 2012, 40-60 minute semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten members of the BPAC committee. Using Weft qualitative data analysis software and the open, axial, and selective coding guidelines of Strauss and Corbin, interview data was systematically coded for evidence of member defined elements of leadership practice. Key artifacts identified by participants during the interviews underwent document analysis using the same coding guidelines as the interview data.

Analysis suggests that the creation, deployment and evolution of artifacts plays a key role in leadership practice from a distributed perspective and may offer insights for schools on how to more effectively leverage the expertise of members in the service of district wide, standards-based school improvement efforts.


Free and open access to this Campus Access Dissertation is made available to the UMass Boston community by ScholarWorks at UMass Boston. Those not on campus and those without a UMass Boston campus username and password may gain access to this dissertation through resources like Proquest Dissertations & Theses Global or through Interlibrary Loan. If you have a UMass Boston campus username and password and would like to download this work from off-campus, click on the "Off-Campus UMass Boston Users" link above.