Board/superintendent relationship in a selected urban district serving high-poverty, majority-minority student population

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Mora, Linda Garcia, 1946-

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The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of the school board/superintendent relationship on academic achievement in one Texas school district that serves high-poverty, majority-minority students. Previous studies identified successful school systems with school boards and superintendents who functioned as a true leadership team. However, previous research focused on school board/superintendent relationship and politics, not student achievement. This case study examined the dynamics of the school board/superintendent relationship and how the dynamics of that relationship influenced the academic achievement of its high-poverty students who were also the majority-minority. The methodology was an intrinsic and qualitative case study which used the constructive perspective and the researcher as the primary instrument for gathering data (Stake, 1988; Patton, 2002). Qualitative data was collected using a loosely structured focus group, individual interviews, and an examination of district documents and records. The research suggests that the dynamics of the school board/superintendent relationship tend to be centered on politics and political power. Politics and political power are impacted by the changing majority/minority composition of the school board, which may lead to instability in the superintendent’s relationship with the board. The research also corroborates previous studies in which effective communication, trust, collaboration, support, and a constant focus on student achievement are the essential building blocks of an effective school board/superintendent relationship. Further, the research supports many other studies which found that the campus principal’s focus on was the catalyst for improved student achievement. Even though educators believe and support the notion that collaborative leadership between the school board and the superintendent is key to the attainment of high academic achievement, this study found there was no apparent effect of the school board/superintendent relationship on the academic achievement of its students. This research has practical implications which may be useful to superintendents and school boards as they face the daily challenges and responsibilities of managing and improving academic achievement.