Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Brian Taberski

Second Advisor

Colette Taylor

Third Advisor

Keisha Scarlett


As schools become increasingly diverse, there has been increasing demand for accountability for school districts to seek to improve student performance (Portz, 2021). A qualitative phenomenological research study was used to explore how school leaders in Seattle Public Schools were responding to the academic needs of Somali immigrant students, the largest Black immigrant group in the district. By using equity mindedness as the theoretical framework, the research study examined how the response to Somali immigrant students might also promote positive outcomes for other historically marginalized and underserved students. This study recruited participants who were former and current school principals, members of the principals of the Association of Washington School Principals and the Principals Association of Seattle. Two research questions guided this study and centered on how school leaders enacted equity mindedness in their decision making and practices. Interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) was used to analyze the qualitative dataset. The four overarching themes that emerged from the data included: (a) critical self-reflection that inspires asset-based perceptions and transformative work, (b) proactive listening and strong collaborations that lead to achieving the school community’s common good, (c) equity-minded leaders promote a safe learning environment and access to culturally responsive resources, and (d) equity-minded leaders leverage structures and processes to build a culturally responsive school for students and staff. This dissertation offers tremendous opportunity for future research because the goal of achieving and promoting equity-minded policies in education is multifaceted, complex, and transferrable to other marginalized and historically underserved students.