Date of Submission


Document Type



Doctor of Education




adaptive leadership, anti-exclusion, collective teacher efficacy, equity, department head leadership, school culture


This Organizational Improvement Plan (OIP) seeks to address the underachievement of marginalized and minoritized students at an Ontario secondary school. Using critical theory, the OIP recognizes that systemic barriers, the pervasive neoliberal performativity agenda, and educator biases and practices combine to reinforce stubborn inequities that negatively impact students who are racialized, poor, and/or identified as having special educational needs. The term anti-exclusion is used to propose an activist stance that challenges inclusion’s connotations of assimilation into a dominant culture. Addressing inequities in a publicly funded, top-down school district context requires adaptive leadership to foster collaborative professionalism while interrogating the status quo, ensuring alignment with system directives, and leveraging competing priorities in support of the change vision. Therefore, the Change Path Model is identified as an appropriate framework to guide the structuring, implementation, communication, monitoring and evaluation of change due to its open systems perspective that views organizations as complex entities that interact with their environments. Department head leadership is selected as the change solution, and the OIP suggests that if department heads fulfil the potential of their roles in support of anti-exclusionary education, the resulting changes in professional culture will lead to increased achievement for marginalized and minoritized students. As such, the change implementation plan focuses on building department head capacity, both individually and as a team. The interrogation of implicit biases is central to the plan, as are mechanisms for student input.

Keywords: adaptive leadership, anti-exclusion, collective teacher efficacy, department head leadership, equity, school culture