A Perfect Storm for Leading Equity and Inclusion: The Complexities of Policy Development, Varied Student and Adult Learning Needs, and Cultures that Don’t Support Them


  • Catherine Hands Brock University
  • Kevin Freckelton Toronto District School Board


The case describes an experienced principal’s arrival at a new school, his observations of the school and its teachers, and his experiences as he attempts to ensure all students have access to education, particularly those requiring accommodations or assistive technology. The culture of the school is compartmentalized, and early-, and mid- to late-career teachers do not engage with one another to any extent. While some of the teachers regularly use the technology available in the classrooms, there is a large group of teachers who do not. Communication and competency issues also arise, and the parent community is concerned. The principal has the difficult task of balancing all constituents’ needs and interests while meeting his vision of an equitable and inclusive school. The case includes three activities and accompanying readings that explore different issues that arise. Using a structure-culture-agency framework, the first activity unpacks these concepts in reference to the case components. The second activity takes a closer look at structure and agency through policy development. Lastly, the third activity examines the impact of culture and agency through professional development planning.

Author Biographies

Catherine Hands, Brock University

Catherine Hands is currently appointed as an Associate Professor at Brock University, where she teaches in the Faculty of Education’s Administration and Leadership in Education program. Catherine’s research interests stem from her experiences as a classroom teacher in addition to her work with school leaders and teachers as a consultant. They include school-community relations, family involvement in schooling, schools as communities, educational leadership, values and ethics in education, social justice, professional learning communities, and educational reform.


Kevin Freckelton, Toronto District School Board

Kevin Freckelton, M.Ed, is currently an elementary school Principal in Toronto. He has over 25 years of experience in education, with qualifications in three teaching panels and has successfully worked in dual track and inner-city environments.  He mentors numerous aspiring and active leaders in the school system, and has presented to rising administrators in the Principal Qualification Program.  He has actively sought opportunities to work with field research teams from York University, Brock University and UOIT, on gender and game technologies, digital literacies, educational leadership, and assistive technology for at-risk students. His ongoing academic interests include the development and assessment of new technologies to support at-risk students, educational leadership development, social entrepreneurship, and the development and effectiveness of health/wellness programs in the educational setting.


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