International research supports the view that principals play an integral role in ensuring the effectiveness of educational programmes for students with disabilities through assuming the role of instructional leaders. This research is qualitative and utilizes phenomenology to explore principals’ experiences and decision-making practices in assessment, curriculum and instruction in special education. The researcher conducted indepth interviews, analyzed transcripts using content analysis, and grounded theory to extract themes which characterized principals’ practices at the four schools. The researcher addressed authenticity and reliability across principals’ accounts through a process of member checking data collected in the study. Findings in the study lend support to the collaborative leadership model which views distributive practices as a part of what administrators do in order to ensure that schools are effectively managed. Further research is needed to understand principals’ distributive practices and whether or not this leads to the creation of effective communities of practice in mainstream and special education setings in Barbados.