Boards in distress: school boards' and superintendents' perceptions of their role and responsibilities during conflict
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This study examined the perceptions of school board members and superintendents of their role and responsibilities during conflict. The following research questions were the focus of this study: (1) What type of group interactions occurred among the school board members and between the board and the superintendent? (2) How did the board/superintendent relationship affect information processing, conflict management, and goal setting between the school board and the superintendent? (3) What ways did group structures, such as role identity, influence board/superintendent cohesiveness? (4) What ways did the superintendent's leadership have an effect on board/superintendent cohesiveness? A good working relationship between an elected school board and an appointed superintendent is crucial in order for the school district to attain its district goals and improve student achievement. The school board members need to understand not only their roles and functions, but also the role and function of the superintendent. If a healthy relationship is not developed, then the school district and their stakeholders will be in a constant power struggle (Estes, 1979). A well-rounded working relationship between the school board and the superintendent is imperative if the district wants to achieve the goals set by the school board and to meet the mandates and requirements from federal and state agencies. Utilizing a qualitative multiple case study with a social action system theory approach, direct observations, individual interviews, and document reviews were used to collect data in this research study. Open, axial, and selective coding were used to analyze the qualitative data that was collected. This study supported themes in practice that emerged through the data in school districts with healthy board/superintendent relationships. The themes included: (a) honesty; (b) free flowing communication; (c) mutual respect; and (g) trust. This study also supplemented the existing research with additional themes that emerged from the individual interviews, direct observation and documents. These emergent themes included: (a) lack of communication; (b) dishonesty; (c) favoritism. The results of this study provided information related to strategies that aid in the development and the improvement of the school board and superintendent relationship. It contributed to the field of knowledge by highlighting the importance of improving the school board and superintendent relationship. This study can serve as a guide for designing training for school boards and superintendents. It could also help determine if a single method or a combination of methods would help to develop or improve the relationship between the school board and the superintendent.