Case Studies

The Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership produces case studies for use in its educational programs. These case studies are available at no charge to educators and researchers.

The Battle Over Wastewater Between Woonsocket and North Smithfield
Melissa S. Prosky, Ph.D., Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership

From 2012-2017, the communities of Woonsocket and North Smithfield engaged in a protracted dispute concerning wastewater disposal. For thirty years, the two jurisdictions had maintained a signed service agreement. Following its expiration, however, Woonsocket imposed a new host fee on North Smithfield. Woonsocket needed to upgrade the facility in order to comply with mandates from the RI Department of Environmental Management. Over the next five years, leaders from both jurisdictions vociferously fought over the new fee. At the same time, leaders within communities experienced their own divisions. This case study highlights the challenges that leaders in both communities faced as they sought to resolve the conflict.

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Crisis of Confidence: Responding to the Rhode Island Credit Union Debacle
Melissa S. Prosky, Ph.D., Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership

This case study highlights examples of state-federal relations in 1991 during a difficult period in Rhode Island’s history. Officials across many branches and levels of government collaborated to work with the Internal Revenue Service, secure a federal loan from the U.S. Treasury, conduct financial examinations and prepare for a major bank merger, all against the backdrop of 45 bank closures that affected nearly one-third of the state’s population. This case study is supplemented by a documentary film which explores the years leading up to the crisis and includes lessons on public leadership and citizenship and a growing collection of reflections from people who were personally affected by the crisis.

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View the documentary.

Read reflections from people affected by the crisis.

Finding Common Ground in the School Safety Debate: A Hypothetical Scenario
Cynthia A. Elder, MPA, Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership.

This hypothetical scenario was developed for a 2018 Hassenfeld Institute leadership conference exploring the art of compromise. The case details a fictional school shooting and the aftermath, during which stakeholders from widely divergent perspectives are forced to seek common ground. The case includes five role play options.

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One Town, One Budget: How Mansfield, Massachusetts Managed School Funding During a Time of Economic Crisis
Melissa S. Prosky, Ph.D., Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership.

From 2010-2012, the Town of Mansfield, MA faced major challenges in its efforts to fund K-12 public education. Not only did the Town suffer the economic consequences of the recession, but relations were intensely strained relations among school and municipal governing bodies. These included the elected School Committee and Board of Selectmen, along with the appointed Finance Committee. This case study examines how the Town successfully moved towards a more collaborative approach to budgeting.

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Response to School Resource Officer Crisis at Tolman High School
Melissa S. Prosky, Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership.

In October 2015, the City of Pawtucket faced a crisis. During an after-school confrontation, a School Resource Officer grabbed a student and flipped him over at Tolman High School. A classmate recorded the incident on his cell phone, and it quickly went viral on social media before a national audience. This case study examines the actions of different stakeholders during a time of heightened tensions and widespread publicity. This case study includes a Learning Guide.

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Download the Learning Guide.