The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the factors that influenced a principal’s decision to leave his or her rural school. Six principals who left their rural Minnesota schools within the previous year were interviewed to determine the perceived factors that led to their departure decisions. Factors were grouped into personal, institutional, and environmental categories. Interviews were transcribed, coded, and analyzed for themes through a rigorous process that included inter-rater reliability checks with an independent researcher and repeated member checks with respondents. Themes were codes that occurred for more than half of respondents and included Family Needs, Career Aspirations, Community Expectations, Workload, Lack of Professional Support, Superintendent and School Board (General Decisions or Relationship), and Superintendent and School Board (Principal Salary and Contract Negotiations). Limitations and suggestions for future research are discussed.

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