With few exceptions, public secondary schools in urban areas have consistently exhibited low performance for decades. Many reporters and researchers have characterized the chronic poor performance of urban secondary schools as a national crisis, which, if left unmitigated, will have catastrophic consequences for America's social and economic systems (Carmichael & Hamilton, 1967; Gardner, 1983; Thernstrom & Thernstrom, 2003; Thornburgh, 2006; Tyack, 1974; Wise, 2008). This research project sought to address the pervasiveness of failed urban school reform efforts; it concentrated on the organizational structures that surround inner-city high schools. Within a large district in Southern California, this mixed methods study examined six purposefully selected urban high schools with varying levels of student achievement, analyzing how principals and teachers in these schools perceived and managed site as well as district level bureaucracies. Ultimately, the goal of this study was to discern whether or not bureaucracies vary in high achieving versus low achieving urban high schools, as well as to identify specific examples of enabling or hindering organizational structures.