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Effectiveness of West Chester Private School (WCPS) as an Open System


Before this turmoil, West Chester Private School (WCPS), a reputable private school, faced enormous challenges leading to the closure of two campuses. This paper critically evaluates WCPS’s effectiveness at the time of closure, organizational culture, behavioral decision-making processes application, and technology challenges, and recommends possible strategies for future enhancements.

West Chester Private School (WCPS) showed inferior effectiveness as an open system when two of its campuses abruptly declared closure. Being an open system, WCPS was supposed to monitor the signals and feedback given by the external environment so that it could change its operation and strategies, respectively. However, WCPS did not check on changing conditions and dynamics in the environment and adjust incrementally. Even though WCPS had years of advance notice of expanding competition from highly-rated charter schools, WCPS remained fixated on its failed expansion and did not respond to the percolating threat surrounding it. Enrollments started declining, and still, the school had no strategic foresight and planning proactively planned. Eventually, the school is forced to make reactive sweeping closures midyear that sends all its stakeholders through shockwaves of chaos and disruption. However, at the same time, the school disregarded even more the trend of the growing online education in adapting to the change in educational landscapes.

Additionally, from the perspective of agility, WCPS was not quite agile and close to readiness for facing big, unexpected external disruptions such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Such damaging, disruptive outputs flowed directly from WCPS’s ineffectiveness as an open system. It failed to monitor, align with, and adjust to environmental forces over time. There was also a total mismatch between dynamic external shifts and rigid internal operations. Ultimately, this mismatch reached a breaking point that forced WCPS into rash decisions that wreaked havoc among students, parents, employees and the viability of the overall institution.

Application of Behavioral Decision-Making Model by WCP

On the emotional aspect, complimentary comments by Dr. Murphy about the North Phoenix campus in the parent meeting and its closure announcement led to intense emotional reactions by parents. The behavioral decision-making model highlights the role of emotions in the decision-making process (Takemura, 2020). The emotional response shows the mettle of parents, students, and performance during the meeting. Anchoring bias further configured the decision dynamics as Dr. Murphy prised the north Phoenix campus while opening the dialogue. In this regard, the initial positive framing was able to anchor stakeholders’ perceptions, hence affecting how the later news of closure would be interpreted (Takemura, 2020). As such, anchoring bias helped shape this surrounding context in how the decision was presented. Furthermore, confirmation bias arose in Dr. Murphy’s allegation that closure resulted from ‘demographic reasons,’ an inconsistent narrative compared with local news reports of financial strain from Moody’s analytics. This created cognitive dissonance and led to confirmation bias towards the one narrative that fitted in with stakeholders’ pre-determined views or expectations.

Finally, limited collaboration and considerations of alternative viewpoints in the process point towards the presence of groupthink. While consensus-seeking overwhelmed critical thinking, viable alternatives may have been rejected, and resistance may have occurred to deal with the stakeholders.

Major Technology and Innovation Challenge That WCPS Faced

West Chester Private School (WCPS) experienced a significant technology and innovation challenge regarding the lack of strong virtual and online learning infrastructure and skills training when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. While competitors heralded the beginning of their emergency remote provisions, WCPS was faltering with no platforms, capacity or teacher ease to move students online and maintain instructional continuity. This gap left WCPS scrambling to meet the needs of critical stakeholders — students, parents, and teachers — during an exceptionally challenging time.

One proposed solution would have been WCPS investing earlier in a robust online learning program and teacher readiness. WCPS may have started such an effort years before it developed novel online learning options that would enable smooth moves of students and the training of teachers in virtual instruction methods. With the pandemic striking, the school could easily have transitioned into online classes with technology resources such as devices and WIFI hotspots for the students on arrival to eliminate the barriers. Adequately designed courses supporting remote engagement would facilitate continued academic program progression while there were lockdowns. The school could guide parents to assist the student to continue learning at home and goodwill measures, like suspending or waiving tuition during lockdowns. Further, teachers would maintain income by teaching online and gaining valuable skills, making them more professionally competitive in a digital era.

Had WCPS proactively built innovative capabilities in virtual and online learning, it could easily address the needs of the student, parent, and teacher during challenges like the pandemic and shutdowns. This would have helped with student learning continuity, parent support, and teacher development/retention.

How the Administration Could Have Handled The Closure Effectively

West Chester Private School (WCPS) administration would have benefited tremendously had it adopted core concepts from three crucial management theories. The classical management approach based on scientific management principles would have brought more effectiveness to evidence-based decision-making (Fallon-O’Leary, 2011). Administrators could continuously analyze the data for rising costs and declining enrollment data and use this incremental analysis of numbers to guide operational strategies and future planning. Standardizing best practices for shutting down failing locations – rather than abrupt, reactive closures – would have left room for more systematic consolidation. In addition, sharing financial analysis transparently would have gone a long way toward bringing much-needed clarity around cases when closing was inevitable.

Further, the WCPS leaders could have actively engaged the stakeholders throughout the process by utilizing the human relations management theories designed to direct focus towards participative, collaborative change. In opening communication channels and instilling empathy, administrators could truly comprehend the consequences of closure on students, faculty, parents, and the communities the administrators serve. The input and feedback from the campus constituents must also be included in the final decisions to smooth difficult transitions by retaining that vital commitment to the school’s future vision.

Finally, modern management theories would have prepared WCPS authorities to proactively manage change and ready stakeholders for the closures with early, open interventions. Tools and techniques of strategizing preparation of parents, students and staff for significant changes can reduce disruption if done out wholly. Data analytics also equip leaders to forecast needs and demonstrate empathy via customized transition planning.

Goals for Future Direction

The private school should adopt long-term and short-term goals for future strategic direction that align with rebuilding stability after the significant ruptures caused by the controversial campus closures. A possible long-term goal is to grow WCPS’s educational platform into 12 virtual and online programs in the next three years. During the period of shutdowns, where students were required to learn from home, WCPS struggled with transitioning to remote learning models since the COVID-19 crisis had exposed significant gaps compared to competitors (Siewers, n.d). Building user-friendly, engaging online courses and content at each grade level would better prepare WCPS for long-term sustainability and relevance in an increasingly digital, remote-friendly world. Amidst the fast-growing online education market driven by factors such as workforce mobility and personalization of learning methods, it is one of the paramount strategies to be adopted.

Concurrently, a compelling short-term urgency goal should be devoted to reestablishing damaged community trust and engagement over the coming year. The suddenness and perceived lack of transparency surrounding campus closures had severed critical bonds with students, parents, faculty, and key constituents. For the engagement to be restored, former leaders from the administration have to commit to revisiting previous decisions for transparency and work prominently on those solutions as they move forward. Increased visibility, a partnership in planning, and greater access to compassionate leadership will assist in reestablishing the goodwill legacy of the school.


In conclusion, West Chester Private School can achieve the proposed long-term goal of expansion into complete online education and the short-term goal of rapidly rebuilding community trust if it revamps management approaches through integrated focus across planning, organizing, leading, and controlling functions. As for Planning, WCPS needs long-range strategic plans mapping out timelines, resources, partners, and growth metrics for sustaining through online offerings while also scheduling regular cultural diagnosis and trust-repair initiatives with stakeholders.

Additionally, Cross-functional teams should oversee online learning development and break community partnership-rebuilding initiatives into implementation steps. Moreover, on leading, Senior leaders need to model transparent, consultative decision-making while simultaneously empowering faculty and students in distributed, collaborative governance. Further, control levers such as the use of surveys, focus groups, and forums should continuously evaluate the extent of satisfaction, progress made, and needs for improvement on the fronts of online education and cultural mending. Finally, WCPS needs stabilization and innovation for the future across revitalization about how the school approaches planning, organizing, leadership modeling, and performance controlling in an integrated way.


Fallon-O’Leary, D. (2011, October 17). Classical and scientific management theory.

Siewers, S. (n.d.). The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for children in Kenya.

Takemura, K. (2020). Behavioral decision theory. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics. London, England: Oxford University Press.


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