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charter schools superintendents role instructional leadership policy reform

Perceptions of the Role of a Charter Superintendent by Charter Board Members and Principals

Marytza A. Gawlik , Ann Allen

In this article, we extend and complement previous studies on self-descriptions of superintendents’ administrative work by examining the influen.


In this article, we extend and complement previous studies on self-descriptions of superintendents’ administrative work by examining the influential role of a relatively new actor in charter schools: the charter school district superintendent. In particular, we examine the influence of a charter district superintendent’s leadership on organizational factors such as mission, principal decision-making and school board involvement through interviews with the principals and board members in the district to identify how a charter school district superintendent exhibits leadership within an emerging context in the public school landscape. We use a qualitative case study approach to examine one charter school district superintendent and the perceptions of charter principals and charter school board members concerning his role and responsibility as a leader in the charter district. Three major themes emerged from the data: the superintendent’s role in the mission of an autonomous district; superintendent as an instructional leader; and the superintendent as a policy entrepreneur. The superintendent’s mission of the charter school district to operate as an autonomous entity, paved the way for the influence of the charter superintendent to employ and articulate instructional leadership strategies in his district, and spurred the superintendent toward action as a policy entrepreneur, establishing an LEA for his charter school district. The findings demonstrate that the superintendent has a significant, dynamic effect on the organizational mission and goals of the charter school district as well as influence on building principals and board members as the leader of the district.

Keywords: Charter schools, superintendent’s role, instructional leadership, policy reform

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