Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Education




Li, Jun


In order to include Muslim students in Ontario schools, inclusive principals are expected work to understand the inclusion of Muslim students in order to grant them with equal recognition and opportunities as other students in schools. In Ontario, school principals can influence students’ learning and achievement through their leadership role and through their routine duties for leading schools, enacting policies, and ensuing quality of instruction at schools. As leaders, principals can enhance the inclusion of Muslim students through working with staff and teachers, and creating working conditions that support Muslim students learning. Ontario policies call for inclusion of all students through maintaining a sense of well-being and ensuring that students reach their full potential, as well as, promoting respect, inclusive education, and eliminating discriminatory biases and power dynamics that hinder students’ learning and growth.

This dissertation examines how principals include Muslim students in public elementary schools in Ontario. I utilize a qualitative case study approach and employ semi-structured interviews with public elementary school principals in Ontario, focusing on four main themes: their understanding of the inclusion of Muslim students; the strategies they employed to include Muslim students; the challenges they experienced as they worked to include Muslim students in their schools; and the resources available for principals to include Muslims students.

My study shows that when it comes to inclusion of Muslim students in public elementary schools, principals’ understanding ranges in between two categories on a continuum, i.e., less-inclusion and inclusion. Principals understanding of inclusion of Muslim students affect their actions, and actions are then explored within three dimensions: (a) the strategies principals engaged in to include Muslim students, (b) the supports principals took to help include them, and (c) the ways principals viewed, and therefore, acted upon the challenges.

I argue that principals in this study work towards the inclusion of Muslim students by challenging their personal assumptions and accepting that the world may favor some groups over others. As well, principals in this study work towards inclusion by accepting that Muslim students have learning needs that are different than other students, that Muslims are part of the society we live in, and that in order to include Muslim students, principals need to include this group in all school activities. I later speak to how my study serves as an initial step at determining where gaps exist in terms of principal’s work on including Muslim students in public elementary schools. And, how the findings from my study may help enhance principals’ practices in regards to working with Muslim students in Ontario public schools. Voices of Ontario elementary school principals is the main theoretical contribution in this study. I aim to share my work principals in Ontario through organized sessions and presentations.

The dissertation also provides recommendations, contributions, and next steps for future research in this area. On a personal level, my study helped me become a dynamic leader by opening my eyes to alternative aspects of inclusive education. Further research on this topic should be the next step for my work.