Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation


Educational Leadership and Policies


Educational Administration

First Advisor

Edward Cox


The aim of this research was to investigate potential causes for the shorter average longevity of South Carolina superintendents as compared to superintendents nationwide. This study addressed the following research questions: 1.) What do South Carolina superintendents perceive to be the reasons for turnover in South Carolina? 2.) Is there a difference in the perceptions of South Carolina superintendents and those of superintendents nationwide? 3.) What are the perceptions of former South Carolina superintendents regarding superintendent turnover? A survey was administered to superintendents in all South Carolina school districts using questions that parallel the American Association of School Administrators survey items from the mid-decade study and the 2010 Decennial Study. A qualitative follow-up allowed for a deeper analysis of perceptions of superintendents through interviews with 12 former superintendents from South Carolina districts with different lengths of average superintendent longevity. Transcripts were analyzed and a list of common themes was created. The superintendents who were surveyed and interviewed for this study overwhelming agree that the relationships with the school board largely determine the longevity of the superintendent. District success can be negatively impacted when the superintendent maintains a positive relationship with the board but is reluctant to make needed changes that may endanger those relationships. Interviews with former superintendents suggest that some school boards are motivated by politics and personal agendas and are not prepared effectively to govern.