Ethnically diverse principals and male Hispanic superintendents' perceptions of the superintendents' leadership
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Superintendents face challenges such as increasing diversity and school reform involving increased accountability for student achievement. To reach academic standards, superintendents and campus principals must work together to produce a school environment focused on academic achievement. Moreover, demographic shifts mean increasingly ethnically diverse schools as well as superintendents. However, research on Hispanic superintendents is limited and typically focused on women. Therefore, this study sought to clarify the superintendent’s role by examining the perceptions of a diverse group of principals about their male, Hispanic superintendents’ leadership. The theoretical framework was Chemers’ (1997) integrative leadership model of image management, relationship development, and resource utilization and viii deployment. The study investigated (a) perceptions of ethnically diverse principals in three successful, large, public school districts about their male, Hispanic superintendents’ leadership in a diverse environment; (b) those superintendents’ selfperceptions of their leadership; and (c) any differences between the perceptions of principals by ethnicity about their male, Hispanic superintendents’ leadership. A qualitative, multiple case study was conducted in three diverse school districts that met four criteria: (a) led by a male, Hispanic superintendent with tenure in that district of 3 or more years; (b) ethnically diverse principals (at least 2 African American, 2 White, and 2 Hispanic), (c) “successful” in that 95% of its schools must have received at least an Acceptable TEA rating for the last 2 years, and (d) an ethnically diverse population of at least 30% Hispanic students. Purposeful sampling yielded a mix of 18 African American, White, and Hispanic principals (predominately female). Data collection included interviews, observations, and a reflective journal. Findings revealed more similarities than differences among diverse principals regarding their perceptions of the superintendents’ leadership. One difference was that Hispanic principals felt an ethnic kinship with superintendents aided communication, although superintendents reported no such kinship. Overall, principals did not cite ethnic differences, instead focusing on transformational leadership, a vision, communication, and data-driven equity and fairness. As more Hispanics assume leadership roles, universities can use research data to restructure leadership training programs. Also, as more Hispanics become ix superintendents, research can help them successfully lead diverse groups of principals.