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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Delores McNair

First Committee Member

Tom Clark

Second Committee Member

Ronald Hallett

Third Committee Member

Linda Skrla


The purpose of this study is to examine how traditional school districts create online schools and how they navigate contingencies to establish online organizational structures. This study uses the theoretical framework of contingency theory to understand how school districts structurally adapt to internal and external factors, or contingencies to establish new online schools. This multiple case study collected data from three online schools in California that have opened in the past two to seven years. While some research exists concerning the challenges of creating online schools, little has been done as to the challenges and factors that traditional school districts encounter in creating and organizing online schools. The findings from this study revealed that online schools must adapt to contingencies through adaptation features. These identified features were divided into categories that included addressing the context; systems planning, management, and leadership; and in-process adaptability. These findings have important implications for traditional school districts with online schools or exploring the option of creating an online school, as well as for policy makers who help define the contingencies online schools face.





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