Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

William K. Poston, Jr.


The purpose of this investigation was to increase the understanding of the dynamics of administrative negative stress on a school superintendent. This case study focused on Philip Derts (pseudonyms are employed), a superintendent supporting Outcome Based Education in the Black Rock School District during the early 1990s, and the challenges he encountered through community opposition to OBE. Derts suffered due to his internal conflict between his religious beliefs and educational beliefs and committed suicide;A qualitative narrative emerged from the data gathered from extensive court records, documents, and interviews. A timeline served as a chronological summary of the events described in the narrative of this case study;A discussion of the court findings from the State Industrial Commission, State District Court, and State Supreme Court after his death was incorporated into this study. The courts' findings affirmed that his widow was entitled to workers' compensation benefits because her husband suffered a mental/mental injury in the workplace due to stress caused mainly by the OBE controversy;Data recovered from these court records of a comparative group of superintendents were displayed, compared, and contrasted with those of Derts in a matrix. This study also blended the singular historical reality with a theoretical model. Data generated from the narrative were fitted into the five stages and stress moderating filters of Gmelch's administrative stress model. Utilizing Gmelch's theoretical framework, an explanation of Derts' inability to cope with the encountered stressors was developed. This was consistent with the evidence of Major Depressive Disorder discussed in the evidence generated from a 3.4 million malpractice judgment awarded against Derts' psychiatrist;A stress-standard developed from this case study displayed the three major categories of workplace stress: observable job-related stress, unusual stress, and extraordinary stress beyond the comparable superintendents;Derts' lack of experience, reserved nature, management style, image as the hierarchical leader, and his ties to his church hampered him in his ability to deal with the issues. The physiological and psychological damage prevented Derts from coping with the on-the-job stress and resulted in a case of fatal burnout.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Leonard Victor Larsen



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

188 pages