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Catholic school principals and autonomy

Barbara A Marchese, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The purpose for conducting this study was to identify Catholic school principals' perceptions of their autonomy. The study focused on how six Catholic school principals function within the diocesan school system. The grand tour question was: ^ In what ways do Catholic school administrators perceive that they are autonomous in their work as school administrators? The sub questions were: (1) How do principals describe the discretion they have in their work? (2) How do principals describe the advantages they perceive from having discretion in their role as principal? (3) How do principals describe the disadvantages of having discretion in their role as principal? ^ Five themes emerged in this study: Singular Leadership, Constraints, Relationships, Support and Areas of Additional Help. In looking at singular leadership, five of the six principals did feel that they were autonomous in their jobs as principals. Boards of Education and pastors played significant roles in the extent of autonomy experienced by the principals. The relationship between the pastor and principal is not discussed in the literature but is very important when discussing principal autonomy. ^ A major constraint that all the principals experienced was in the area of finances. Financial resources are limited and the pastor determines the monies available to be spent. The schools are very dependent on the parish for financial support in running the school. ^ The Catholic school office and other principals readily helped when contacted. All of the principals in this study would welcome additional help in their jobs. ^ The principals felt that their preparation for the job was not learned at the university level. Most of the training came from on-site experiences or from their principals when they were teaching. ^ Literature concerning Catholic school leadership would be enhanced by looking at the pastor/principal relationship and the impact that that relationship has on the longevity of the principal's tenure. Catholic school board roles and responsibilities and how they differ from public school boards would be an area for further research. ^

Subject Area

Education, Administration

Recommended Citation

Marchese, Barbara A, "Catholic school principals and autonomy" (2000). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9962063.