Principals' perspectives on discretion and decision making
Heilmann, Michael Raymond
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Principals are required to continuously exercise their discretion on a variety of matters that affect schools, teachers, children and communities. In spite of this reality, not much study has been done in this area of the principal’s job. In this study I examine discretionary decision-making in areas of discipline, budgets and staff management. I found that principals seek to balance the needs of their students against defensibility of their actions within the context of seemingly conflicting school board policies, school policies and superintendents expectations. I present a new conceptual model for discretion and a call for careful policy writing, increased understanding of discretion by administrators and further studies which would include the perspectives of those affected by principals’ decisions.