Citation
Staff perceptions of the influentials, issues, and the decision making process in a school system in Florida

Material Information

Title:
Staff perceptions of the influentials, issues, and the decision making process in a school system in Florida
Creator:
Douglass, Jean K. ( Jean Kelly ), 1939-
Forgnone, Charles ( Thesis advisor )
Algozzine, Robert F. ( Reviewer )
Kimbrough, Ralph B. ( Reviewer )
Nickens, John M. ( Reviewer )
Nunnery, Michael Y. ( Reviewer )
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
Publisher:
University of Florida
Publication Date:
Copyright Date:
1981
Language:
English
Physical Description:
vii, 144 leaves : ill. ; 28 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Boards of education ( jstor )
Community associations ( jstor )
Counties ( jstor )
Decision making ( jstor )
Educational administration ( jstor )
Recommendations ( jstor )
School principals ( jstor )
School superintendents ( jstor )
Schools ( jstor )
Secretaries ( jstor )
Dissertations, Academic -- Special Education -- UF
Education -- Political aspects ( lcsh )
School districts -- Florida ( lcsh )
School management and organization -- Decision making ( lcsh )
Special Education thesis Ed. D
Hillsborough County ( local )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
United States -- Florida

Notes

Abstract:
The decision making process in an urban school district was investigated using a combination of the decision analysis and reputational methods. Two series of interviews were conducted with administrative staff, school board members, and educational organization members to ascertain the influentials int he district decision making process, which formal and informal groups impinged upon the decision making process in this urban school district, and what important issues had confronted the district within the past three years. Results of the study identified 13 persons as influential, a very small percentage of the total administrative staff in this system. Most of the influentials were men who had worked in this system for over 15 years. Twenty-eight organizations were identified as having impact on decision making in the district. The group interviewed indicated certain organizations as having more importance than did the influentials when they were questioned about relative significance of the different organizations. Informal groups did not appear to exert much influence outside the official organization, but did within the bureaucratic hierarchy. Thirty-eight issues were identified as having had impact ont he system during the past three years. Fourteen of those decisions were indicated by three or more persons as being particularly significant. The three reasons most often mentioned were investigated in depth and disclosed influential involvement that varied dependent upon the issue itself, scope of the decision, and involvement of the school board and outside community groups.
Thesis:
Thesis (Ed. D.)--University of Florida, 1981.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographic references (leaves 129-133).
General Note:
Typescript.
General Note:
Vita.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Jean K. Douglass.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida
Resource Identifier:
028116538 ( ALEPH )
07784405 ( OCLC )
ABS1004 ( NOTIS )

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STAFF PERCEPTIONS OF THE INFLUENTIALS, ISSUES,
AND THE DECISION MAKING PROCESS IN A SCHOOL SYSTEM IN FLORIDA






BY

JEAN K. DOUGLASS


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF EDUCATION


UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


1981
















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


The author wishes to express her appreciation to all those who have helped to make this study possible. In particular, the author wishes to acknowledge the guidance given by the chairman of her doctoral committee and director of the dissertation, Dr. Charles Forgnone. The aid and counsel of the other members of the doctoral committee, Dr. Ralph Kimbrough, Dr. Michael Nunnery, Dr. Robert Algozzine, and Dr. John Nickens are deeply appreciated.

Particular thanks are extended to the staff of the Hillsborough County Schools and the Hillsborough County School Board. Without their cooperation, this study would have been impossible.

For their generous support and understanding, the author wishes to express her gratitude to Louise, Boone, Smith, Margaret, and George. Much appreciation is also extended to colleagues and personal friends who have been genuine advocates of the author.
















TABLE OF CONTENTS


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . . . . . . . . .


ABSTRACT CHAPTER I


INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . .


The Problem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Statement of the Problem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Delimitations and Limitations . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Definition of Terms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Justification of the Study . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Organization of the Study . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

CHAPTER II

REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Research in Decision Making . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Methodology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

CHAPTER III

SETTING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Community and District . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Area . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Population . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Economic Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Government of the District and County Seat
Concerns of the District . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The District School System . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Budget and Schools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Achievement Levels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
District Office . . . . . . . . . *
Administrative Organization of the Dist i t'
Formal Procedures for Decision Making . . . . . . . . . Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .











CHAPTER IV

PROCEDURES . .

Introduction .
Overview .
Sample
The Interview Sampie" . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Interviews With the Selected Informants .
Instrumentation .
Interview Guide A .
Interview Guide B .
Initial Interviews . .
Follow-Up Interviews . .
Data Analysis .
Persons Identified as Influential
Decisions or Issues Identified as Significant

CHAPTER V

RESULTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Identification of Influentials . . .
Rankings of the Leaders
General Characteristics of the influentials . . . .
Age . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Sex
Residence . . . . .
Years of Education .
Degrees Held
Marital Status/Number of Children . . . . . . . .
Identification of Formal Organizations and Informal Relationships . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Formal Organizations
Membership in Professional Organizations . .
Membership in Civic and Other Organizations . .
Informal Relationships and Friendships
Identification of Decisions and Issues . . . .
PL 94-142--Education for the Handicapped . . . .
School Closings
Smoking Areas for High School Students .

CHAPTER VI

SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS .

Summary . .
The Influentials .
Formal and Informal Organizations .
Decisions and Issues


73 73 78 78 82 91
94 100
108











Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 122
General Recommendations . . . 126
Recommendations for Further Re;e r h' 126

REFERENCES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129

APPENDIX A INTERVIEW GUIDE A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 134

B INTERVIEW GUIDE B . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144
















Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of
of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education


STAFF PERCEPTIONS OF THE INFLUENTIALS, ISSUES, AND
THE DECISION MAKING PROCESS IN A SCHOOL SYSTEM IN FLORIDA By

Jean K. Douglass

March, 1981

Chairman: Charles Forgnone
Major Department: Special Education
The decision making process in an urban school district was investigated using a combination of the decision analysis and reputational methods. Two series of interviews were conducted with administrative staff, school board members, and educational organization members to ascertain the influentials in the district decision making process, which formal and informal groups impinged upon the decision making process in this urban school district, and what important issues had confronted the district within the past three years.

Results of the study identified 13 persons as influential, a

very small percentage of the total administrative staff in this system. Most of the influentials were men who had worked in this system for over 15 years. Twenty-eight organizations were identified as having










impact on decision making in the district. The group interviewed indicated certain organizations as having more importance than did the influential when they were questioned about relative significance of the different organizations. Informal groups did not appear to exert much influence outside the official organization, but did within the bureaucratic hierarchy.

Thirty-eight issues were identified as having had impact on the system during the past three years. Fourteen of those decisions were indicated by three or more persons as being particularly significant. The three reasons most often mentioned were investigated in depth and disclosed influential involvement that varied dependent upon the issue itself, scope of the decision, and involvement of the school board and outside community groups.















CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION


Although some people and groups decry the existence of the

exercise of power or political influence in the educational system, the results of research indicate that political pressure is present in educational decision making. Politics is and has been inextricably bound to education in the United States. Politics lies at the very heart of policy making in public education and the exercise of power is an inherent part of this total framework. Elected school board members and, in some instances, elected superintendents establish policy that is consistent with regulation and law established by elected officials both at the state and federal levels. Examining the school system and its social and political milieu in order to ascertain how it can be influenced is, therefore, important in order to support better educational programming for all citizens.

Nunnery and K.imbrough (1971) emphasized the necessity of school leaders understanding and becoming involved with the power structure of their communities. School persons need to.understand the complexities of politics, know the methods of gaining power within the existing structure, and utilize this knowledge with successful action in influencing decisions concerning the system (Hughes, 1967; Longstreth,










1966). Both formal and informal subsystems and the communication systems of the power structure must be dealt with knowledgeably and consistently in order to have positive influence on educational decisions.

Although one may recognize the need for awareness of the political and power structure of the community, discerning the political nature of the bureaucracy in order to effectively work within it is essential. Allocation of resources and appointment of persons to positions within the bureaucracy are legitimate reasons for involvement with and understanding of the bureaucratic nature of the school system (Kimbrough & Nunnery, 1976). Kimbrough and Nunnery also suggest that how people use bureaucracy to realize personal goals should be investigated

*rather than the common fallacy of looking only at what bureaucracy does to people. The relationship of a person to others in the organization is the crucial factor to examine, not the absolute power of the individual (Presthus, 1964). To be viable, such study must be done within the framework of the total system of relationships within that particular organization.

Much study has been made of the power structure of the community (Dahl, 1961; Hunter, 1953; Johns & Kimbrough, 1968; Presthus, 1964). Other researchers have concentrated on power structure within organizations and were concerned essentially with the right to make decisions and to initiate actions (Bennis, Berkowitz, Affinito, & Malone, 1958; Rosen, Levinger, & Lippitt, 1961; Smith & Tannenbaum, 1965; Thompson, 1956).










Occasionally, studies have been directed primarily toward

examining relationships within school groups (Collins, 1979; Fleming, 1963; Ia'nnacor~ne, 1959; lannaconne & Lutz', 1970; McCluskey, 1973). No published materials have been found that reflect the decision making process within the administrative power structure of specific district level staff other than the superintendent and his or her power within that structure.



The Problem

Statement of the Problem

The problem in this study was to examine the staff perceptions of the most influential persons in school decision making of a large urban school district in Florida. Specific questions asked included:

1. Who were'pdrceived by school officials as the most influential persons 'in school decision making in the school organization and what were their characteristics?

2. What formal and informal organizations impacted upon the decision making process?

3. What major issues were being considered by the school district and what'ma'jor decisions were made concerning those issues during the past three years in this school district?

Djelimitations and Limitations

The scope of this study was limited in several ways. Since selfreports wer-e-the primary method of collecting data utilized in this research, other information impinging upon certain decisions were not










considered. Only three issues were investigated in depth which may have restricted the overall view of influence within the district and may single out certain individuals as influential when, in fact, other issues not investigated may not have indicated the same degree of influence.

Staff in the district chose whether they would participate and to what degree they would respond to questions. Since it is possible that those persons who agreed to cooperate in the study differed significantly from those who chose not to respond to some of the investigated variables, the study may have been limited.

This study was delimited to responses from administrative staff in the district school system, school board members, and professional organization staff. It was further delimited by investigating staff influence in only one district in the state.


Definition of Terms

Decision analysis technique. An interview method, originally developed by Dahl (1961), of identifying leaders based on their involvement in selected issues.

Formal organization. The planned structure of an organization as described in organizational charts and formal documents.

Influence. The attributed power of an individual to affect decision making on educational issues.

Influential. A person who is judged to exercise a relatively high degree of influence in determining the course of action to be taken for varied interests. In this study, an influential is that










person who exercises influence over educational decisions, especially in the district-wide areas of concern.

Informal organization. The human aspect of an organization; the unofficial relationships and norms of the organization.

Issue. A controversy among groups within an educational setting concerning educational affairs and decisions.

Power structure. The structural distribution of political

influence among individuals and groups in the school district, organization, or portion of the school district organization.

Power system. A group or groups of influential who cooperate or compete to exert influence in the decision making process.

Reputational technique. A technique originally developed by .Hunter (1953) of determining influential based on nominations by others who perceive the nominees as being influential.

Role. A function performed by someone in a particular situation, process, or operation (Webster's, 1964, p. 1968).


Justification of the Study

Extensive study has been invested in describing the community

power structure. There is need for more analysis of the use of power within the administrative staff of school organizations. This study was conducted to describe how administrative staff perceived the decision making process and the issues involved in that process.

This study should be of use to the practicing educator by providing a way of observing an educational organization and discerning both the formal and informal processes that influence decision making within










the system. The knowledge of how a system operates and what measures an administrator can utilize in order to influence that system gives a person great power in making decisions that positively affect the educational lives of students.

By observing and involving himself in the formal and informal

organizations that exist within all bureaucracies, the administrator can develop methods of enhancing working conditions for all employees and increase the effectiveness of the organization. Such involvements will have positive impact upon the educational process and students

should profit.


Organization of the Study

Chapter I is an introduction to the study. The purpose has been described as have the statement of the problem, delimitations, and limitations of the study. Definitions of the terms used in this research have been included.

Chapter II contains a review of the literature that has direct impact upon this research. Reviews of selected studies of decision making as well as descriptions of methodology for studies of decision making and discernment of power are included.

Chapter III describes the setting, both community and educational. It specifies geography, population, economic life, and overall school district organization.

Chapter IV provides a description of the procedures used in completing this research. Data analysis procedures are delineated.







7


Chapter V describes the results of the research undertaken. Designation of the influential and formal and informal groups as well as the decisions studied are explained and data are discussed.

Chapter VI summarizes and discusses the implications of the research conducted. 'Recommendations for future investigation are

also included.















CHAPTER II

REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE


Introduction

Relevant portions of literature dealing with research related to decision making and methodology of power structure and decision making analysis are presented in this chapter. ERIC and Dissertation Abstracts searches were conducted covering the period 1975 to the present in order to obtain all appropriate citations available.


Research in Decision Making


Andes, Johns, and Kimbrough (1971) conducted a massive series of studies of organizational structures of 82 of the larger school districts in the country. Seven were then selected for an in-depth field investigation in order to describe a decentralized type organization, its patterns of staffing, and other characteristics. Other studies that were associated with this research analyzed communication, issues, decision making patterns, conflict within the organization, patterns for dealing with students, and teacher militancy. Another goal was to provide the basis for conceptualizing alternative structures for urban school systems. The researchers found that there was great concern about the complexity and size of urban school organizations and that some of the stresses which reduce organizational effectiveness included










inadequate communication networks, inadequately defined processes of participation in school governance, and extremes in political issues.

In these studies, some individuals or groups were shown to have access to the influential or to be heard but who had little real participation in decision making. They did, however, through their efforts, force some important modifications in the organizational structure in most of the conflict analyzed by the research team. Public groups were shown to have real power when they chose to use it in a concerted manner.

The analysis of the data gathered also demonstrated the resistance of the bureaucracies to change. The authors suggest the need to develop organizations that are more flexible and responsive to the community, parents, students, and influential. Effective participation in the development of goals is of supreme importance in order to reduce the intensity of goal conflict among the groups and individuals involved in public education.

District school organizations have been studied. Peach (1979) investigated the levels of participation of teachers, principals, central office staff, superintendent, and school board in decision making and the personal levels of satisfaction felt by each group. He concluded that those persons who participated more in decision making were more satisfied. He also found that the highest levels of participation were found for the superintendent, central office, and board, with principals and teachers last. Those staff persons with the longest tenure were the most satisfied.

Diedrich (1978) studied the role preferences of selected Michigan Board of Education members and superintendents. He found consensus










between both groups that superintendents and board of education are the most influential in decision making. Both groups also felt the teacher union should play a minor role in decision making. The board members felt the superintendents had more power than superintendents felt they personally had but superintendents felt the board members should have less influencethan they actually had.

Parsons (1978) studied the decision making process in the East China, Michigan, schools and found that board members felt coordinators at the district office should have a significant role in decision making in curriculum matters. Principals felt they were more influential in the decision making process than did board members and teachers felt principals were prime decision makers--a potential .source of conflict with which the principals must deal.

An investigation of the different perceptions held by school board members, superintendents, and lay citizens of the decision making role of the superintendent in the St. Louis area was conducted by Thouvenaut (1979). He found that the superintendents perceived they had more independent authority than community members who felt there was greater board involvement. Older people felt the superintendent needed more authority; more skilled persons perceived superintendents as being more independent. Rural respondents perceived the superintendent as more independent than those from larger urban areas. Those with less educational background felt there should be less superintendent independence. The board members indicated they were willing to give superintendents more authority than constituents felt they should.










Mendoza (1978) researched the relationship of role and decision

making interactions occur !ing between school superintendents and subordinates in 36 Georgia school districts. He found the superintendent and assistants viewed their interaction in the decision making process differently. Each thought he had greater involvement than the other. Those assistants with authoritarian superintendents had fewer decision making opportunities. Centralized decision making was acceptable if the decision was predictable. Permissive nonthreatening environments are best for educational managers.

Crystal (1977) investigated the decision making process occurring in an eight member central office team in the Boston area and concluded that politics is what education is all about and the politics of education is covert, conducted as a secret rite. More attention should be given to informal decision making processes. He felt the charismatic superintendent is a politician first and an educator second. Professional control over the budget of the school system is preferred over public control. He also felt that federal and state-mandated programs have led to the creation of a new patronage system.

Whipple (1979) studied the role of Michigan school board members and superintendents in agenda construction and concluded that the agenda development is important in superintendent/board relationships and the board should especially be involved in the evaluation of teachers, discipline, finance, and negotia tions which are of utmost importance to both the school board and to the superintendent.

The perceived effectiveness of interest groups in educational

decision-making was congruent with the opinions of Andes et al. (1971)










and others that community groups must be involved in decision making and that school systems must become more pluralistic in order to deal more effectively with the increasingly pluralistic societies .developing in urban centers. Improved public relations will be one outcome of such modifications.

Schools themselves have been studied to some degree by contemporary researchers in attempting to identify the decision making process operating within that institution. Iannaccone (1959) found that the informal organization exerted strong influence upon matters concerning critical school policy issues and is used when satisfactory decisions are not made through the formal organizational channels.

Fleming (1963) attempted to compare the decision making process

in two junior high schools and found that informal groups were actively involved in exerting influence to change formal discipline policy. He also identified certain members who were not formal status leaders who could and did exert influence to guide certain school operations. Cliques were active in.both schools.

Verchota (1971) focused on how teachers perceived the power

structure and the power of the department chairman in selected schools in Illinois. A major conclusion was that the nature of the district administration had impact upon what the teachers' perceptions were of the power structure and that the interpersonal relationships within the school modified this pattern.

Friga (1970) analyzed interactions in three elementary schools in "Northern City." He selected an inner city elementary school, a transitional elementary school, and an outer city elementary school.










He found that the principal of the inner city school was more central to the interaction system than either of the other two principals. Although the principal was the central figure in the interaction pattern, there was greater balance in interaction among the faculty of the transitional school than was true of the other two schools. The subsystems of the outer city school had greater interdependence than did the subsystems in the inner city and transitional schools. The interaction within the systems of the three schools studied tended to focus upon the principals who were obviously in positions to influence activities within the systems. Friga emphasized the need to make concentrated effort to improve the principal's role in planning and decision making. Greater teacher participation, especially in the inner city schools where this situation poses the most significant problem, should be developed.

Wiles (1970) developed a Decisional Practices Inventory with

which he demonstrated that principals and teachers have differing perceptions of desirable participation for both groups in decision making. Andes et al. (1971) felt that attention must be given to role differentiation in order to realize more effective participation of principals and teachers in both planning and decision making.

Ushijima (1978) investigated the patterns of influence and

decision making in junior high school attendance areas in California and found discernible power structures in each attendance area. He also found that a significant relationship existed between formal and informal power structures and extended to the area office and district office depending upon the issue raised.










A study by King (1979) analyzed similarities between superintendent and elementary principals' respective roles in decision making. Little relationship between their perceptions of each other's roles was disclosed.

Perry (1979) researched the perceptions of principals as to the increased involvement of the community in decision making. He found principals were not willing to relinquish a great deal of authority in decision making to community groups especially in the area of teaching personnel. Their involvement should be in community relations and not in internal workings of the school. Elementary principals were more open than secondary principals to community involvement.

A description of decision making patterns of nine school principals was completed by Cross (1980). His observations of these principals in their natural setting as well as in given structured situations revealed that most principals dealt with problems developing in their .attendance area. He also found that principals made decisions very rapidly when confronted with problem situations. This, in some cases, led to poor decisions. The principals did not go through accepted steps in problem solving when confronted with more than 100 problems each day. Cross also found that the principals depended upon themselves rather than upon data for the decisions they made. They were strongly influenced by subordinates, little by superordinates.

Community colleges have also been studied in order to discern how

the decision making process operates. Influentials were also identified. Melton (1973) examined the decision making process in a selected collegially organized community college in Florida. He found that










wide sharing of leadership existed among faculty members and over 62 percent of the leaders were not key administrators as designated on the.organizational chart. Informal groups were important elements through which decisions were made in the organization as were the formal organizations or groups.

Another case study of a community college in California found that local external forces dominated the decision making process in this area. Power and influence flowed downward and few options were left by the time decisions reached the faculty level. Student involvement in decision change was very small. One dean was found to be significantly influential to the point that, if he approved a program regardless of which department it impacted upon, it would be accepted. He was considered the most powerful person on the entire campus (O'Hara, 1978).

Zoglin (1980) found that in California community colleges

decision making in curriculum was defined by diverse groups including the community. The community is extremely important in successfully achieving goals set for the organization and it must be included in giving input for decisions.

Weiner (1979) studied a suburban community outside Boston in

order to determine whether or not an urban political decision making model would be effective in the examination of suburban educational decisions. A decision making model developed by Bolen and Nattall was used to investigate three educational decisions in a suburban community. The model was used to assess how individuals' roles and skills affected their importance to the decision making process.










Several hypotheses were examined to test how the perceptions of key decision makers influenced the decision making process. It was concluded that individuals who played one or more of the eight process roles identified were more important than individuals who did not. No significant relationship existed between an individual's importance and the individual's skill or his/her position on the issue.

Collins (1979) used the University of Florida format to investigate the decision process in a rural county in Mississippi.- He found there was a discernible power structure in this district made up of blacks and whites with a significant number of politicians indicated as influential. He also found that influence in making decisions was primarily used in an informal setting and that the educators' civic beliefs were more liberal than those of the influential in both districts.

Research results in the arena of decision making in school

organizations indicate that those persons higher on the administrative ladder generally are considered both by themselves and by others as having more influence and a greater sense of satisfaction in their positions than do those employees on lower levels. Results from most studies indicated the need for-more involvement from individuals and groups within the organization in order to develop more positive feelings about the organization as well as about the person's own role within the group.

Informal groups and associations were found to be significant in many of the studies cited. The recognition of an involvement with these groups in the decision making process kidsthe administrator in enhancing the overall effectiveness of his or her organization.










The perception of another influential's role is not necessarily congruent with that person's perception of his/her own role. This can become the basis of a significant problem causing situation within the organization unless role definition occurs for all persons involved in the process. Delineation of role is essential both for individuals within the organization as well as for the community at large.

The leadership style of the influential within the system has

great impact upon the degree of decision making activity in which subordinates may engage. The more dictatorial the leader, the less involved in decision making those lower level employees may be. This was found to be true both within district level organizations as well as within schools and community colleges.

The degree to which a school or school organization is accepted and supported by the community is dependent, in large part, upon the willingness of the administrator to accept input from the community and its subgroups. This is equally true for district level organizations. Active involvement both at the district and school level is .seen as desirable although many administrators may actively resist involvement.


Methodology

People have influence in a power structure by virtue of their control over and effective use of certain resources (Kimbrough & Nunnery, 1976). In order to direct and control these resources, leaders must be in a position to regulate both tangible and intangible










"things" people value. This does not necessitate a formal position of power. In fact, those holding positions viewed by the lay person as powerful may be mere figureheads with no real influence within the greater community.

Prior to the 1980s, persons of power were usually indicated by the position or office they held in a formal organization. It soon became apparent that many miscalculations were made using this method and the influence of the informal group was rarely considered.

The formal study of the community power structure is generally viewed as having been initiated by Hunter (1953) in Atlanta. He is credited with developing and employing the reputational model whereby selected community leaders were asked to nominate those persons they considered to be the most important influential persons in the community. A panel of judges was then asked to select the most prominent persons from this list of influential persons. Indepth interviews were conducted with each of these persons in an attempt to discover the dynamics of the power structure within the community or organization.

Dahl (1961) developed the decision analysis technique in order to demonstrate that the unveiling of a community power structure is more effectively accomplished by analyzing leader involvement in issues. New Haven, Connecticut, was the original site for utilization of this method. Investigators using this method selected decision areas for in-depth study. Persons affiliated with these decision areas were then interviewed and asked to indicate the most significant decisions made in their field and those persons involved in the decision making process.










Those individuals mentioned most often were interviewed in order to ascertain their part as well as their perceptions of the actions of others in decisions. Data collected were substantiated by examination of public records and other documentary evidence relating to those particular decisions. A distinction was made between the initiation and implementation phases of decision making for the initiator was seen as wielding more power than the implementer.

Presthus (1964) combined elements-of both the reputational and

decision making techniques and observed that the reputational technique tended to identify those persons who operated "behind the scenes" while the decision making method tended to identify the more overtly active persons involved in the decision making process. There was, however, sizeable overlap in lists produced by both methods. Presthus felt that the two methods "were better conceived as mutually supportive means of ascertaining power" (1964, p. 59) and would provide useful checks against the inadequacies of each other.

The combining of both reputational and decision making elements has been utilized by a number of investigators (Gourley, 1963; Kimbrough, 1975; Shaffer, 1967; Wellman, 1964). They contend the combination of methods was the most effective procedure for providing insight into the power structure of communities or organizations.

The University of Florida approach (Kimbrough, 1975) follows

some principles of both the decision analysis and reputational techniques but also differs in some respects. This technique initially identifies the most important interest sectors of the community which may vary according to community background, e.g., economic, political.










Geographic spread is assured by interviews and decisions, issues and problems studied; influential persons within the area; and significant organizations are identified. Subsequent interviews are then constructed from the data obtained. Questions appropriate to initially discovering leadership dynamics and decision making processes are the foci for these investigations (Andes et al., 1971; Collins, 1979; Craft, 1977; Elmer, 1976; Frasher, 1970; Friga, 1970; Johns & Kimbrough, 1968; Trufant, 1970; Zenke, 1970).

Extensive research in power and decision making has been conducted since the landmark work in this area was completed by Hunter in 1973. A move has been observed from the simple designation of the position holder as influential within a community or organization to a much more sophisticated means of discovering who actually does possess and use influence in decision making.

Most current research involves a combination of techniques such as the reputational and decision analysis methods or modifications of those techniques in order to observe the attainment and use of power by individuals and groups within specific systems. Real decisions are explored in order to observe the actual use of power and influence in actual decisions by persons perceived as influential in order to ascertain their role in determining policy or in resolving issues. Research methodology such as that proposed by Kimbrough and others has aided in the development of a more refined and conclusive metho d of identifying influentials within organizations and communities.

By enabling the group member to better understand the inner

workings of his or her organization, that person is thereby provided










a method by which positive solutions to problems can be addressed more efficiently and effectively. A smoother operation within that organization should be the ultimate goal of such investigations.

The refinement of these techniques is continuing. More use is being made of them within specific organizations as well as within communities and.larger regions. Positive changes in organizational effectiveness should result.

A review of the literature dealing with field studies in decision making has. been presented. Rationale for and methods of discerning the power structure and decision making in communities and organizations have been described delineating the evolving nature of these techniques.















CHAPTER III

SETTING


This chapter describes the administrative organization of an urban school district in Florida. The county is described in terms of the population, area economic life, city and county government, and structure of the district school system.


The Community and District

Area

This county serves a geographic area of 1,037.8 square miles of land and 24.2 square miles of inland water area, fifth in total area of all districts in Florida. The corporate limits of the county seat cover 84.4 square miles (Chamber of Commerce, 1979). Population

The population of this county is currently estimated at 652,000 by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Florida (Chamber of Commerce, 1979). Projections indicate that from 1978 to 1985, this county will have over a 15 percent increase in population. The county has grown by 161,735 people each year from 1972 to 1980, or a 4.1 percent increase. Estimates predict a population of 750,000 by 1985. The county seat with a current population











of 288,878 is projected at 319,200 by 1985, a decrease from 44 percent of the total population to 42.5 percent, an indication of the movement to the county (Chamber of Commerce, 1979).

The age distribution of the population in the county and the county seat do not differ appreciably (see Table 1). The median age in the county seat is 30.8 years and in the county 28.5 years (Chamber of Commerce, 1979). Seventeen and 15 percent of the existing population 6re60 and over in the county seat and the county, respectively. There is an indication that a larger percentage of the school-age population is moving to the more suburban and rural portions of the county, thus exerting pressure to fund more building construction in those areas and to find more uses for the unusedfacilities in the inner city.

Table 1

Age Distribution


Age Range County Seat County
Population Percent Population Percent

0-19 years 95,924 35 181,409 37

20-39 years 68,872 25 128,326 26

40-59 years 65,022 24 108,092 22

60+ years 46,949 17 72,488 15

TOTAL 276,767 100 490,315 100

MEDIAN AGE 30.8 years 28.5 years











Economic Life

A broad-based economy with many industrial organizations is

represented; and, also, a large percentage of the adult working population are found in service, government, and transportation job areas (see Table 2) (Chamber of Commerce, 1979). Tourism is a major venture in the county and employees in the various service areas make up a large part of the total working force in the district.

Table 2

Employment Distribution



Job Area Number of Employees Percent of Total


Manufacturing 33,000 14.1

Contract Construction 15,400 6.6

Transportat-ion, Communication, 16,600 7.1
Utilities

Trade 64,200 27.5

Finance, Insurance, 15,700 6.8
Real Estate

Service 44,400 19.0

Government 44,000 18.9

TOTAL 233,300 100.0











From its earliest days, farming has been of utmost importance to the county. Even today, the county is one of the state's most diversified agricultural communities and ranks fourth in agricultural production in the United States. Over $108,000,000 worth of farm goods are produced annually and the county is noted for its citrus, strawberries, beef cattle, ornamental horticulture, dairy farms, egg production, and tropical fish production.

This area has shown significant growth in all areas of economic life. Business leaders of this area predict continuing growth in the county as well as in the chief city. All indicators point to a continuing increase in growth in all areas of the district with even more significant increases in the suburban and rural areas of the district.

Government of the District and County Seat

The county is governed by a Board of County Commissioners. The

-Board consists of one commissioner from each of five districts within the county elected county-wide for a term of four years. The Board meets weekly to conduct county business.

The major city in the county, which is also the county seat,

operates with a mayor-council form of government. The mayor is chief administrator and is elected for a term of four years. The seven city councilpersons form the legislative branch of city government and are also elected for four year terms.


Concerns of the District

An analysis of major areas of significance in the district conducted every three years by the news media in the area identified 10










areas of major concern by the public (WFLA News, 1979):

1. transportation facilities,

2. state of the economy,

3. health and welfare of all citizens,

4. quality of education,

5. growth patterns of the district,

6. women and minority rights and progress,

7. crime and its curtailment,

8. energy and environment,

9. housing--public and availability of housing for middle

income citizens, and

10. dissatisfaction with government oper ations and spending.

Education was mentioned as a part of several of the concerns listed above. Transportation and its relationship to available energy were often mentioned as were growth patterns of the county and the resultant pressure to close schools. The quality of education, upgrading of courses, back to basics and testing results were of paramount interest to the lay public. Much concern was expressed about the ability of the economy to support this endeavor.

Much dissatisfaction was expressed about all levels of government with the greatest degree of negative feeling concerning the federal and state levels of bureaucracy--overspending, bureaucratic waste and political appointment of agency heads who have no real ability in their area of responsibilities. Local and district bureaucracy were also mentioned as having negative aspects but were not seen as negatively as other governmental levels.










A study (Tampa Tribune, 1980) was conducted with responses requested from 502 parents, teachers, and students in the school district. Responses were received by 261 parents, 130 students, and 111 teachers who were contacted by telephone and asked questions concerning their perceptions of the quality of education. Special portions of the-educational program were addressed. Results indicated:

1. Parents and teachers said they are willing to pay higher taxes to improve the schools in the county.

2. The majority of all three groups felt the public school education deserved a grade of B.

3. Most of the teachers said the present day education is better than the one they received; nearly half of the parents felt their children were receiving an inferior education in comparison to that they received.

4. Sixty percent of the teachers and only 48 percent of the parents stated that the schools were adequately encouraging parents to become involved in their child's school.

5. More than half of the students felt that drugs and absenteeism were problem issues. Less than half of the parents and teachers felt they were major problems. Busing was not considered a significant problem by a major portion of the respondents. Crime and vandalism are not considered problem areas by any of the group majorities.

6. High marks were given the schools by all three groups to

programs in the areas of math, English, art/music, reading, discipline, and student counseling. However, more parents and students gave C grades than did the teachers.











7. A large number of parents and students were.unaware of the programs in special education and bilingual education.

8. The majority of parents and teachers felt creationism should be taught and prayer allowed.


The District School System

The following information was derived from material published by

the school boardfor use with community and school leaders (Hillsborough County School Board, 1980). The school system is ranked as the 14th largest school system in the United States and is the third largest in Florida. In September, 1979, there were 126 schools in operation serving 113,947 students in public school programs. Of this population, 9,812 students are exceptional students served in special programs and 1,601 are students in early childhood or Head Start Centers. Permanent instructional staff number 6,746 while another 5,130 persons serve as permanent non-instructional staff. Another 3,900 staff members are classified as temporary and substitutes- So, there is a total of 15,776 staff members,

Student enrollment declined somewhat between 1976 and 1978 with an approximate decrease of 300 students each year. By the beginning of the 1979-80 school year, however, there was an increase of 800 students thus showing a net increase of 118 students since 1976. Budget and Schools

There are 126 schools currently operating in the district, 88 elementary, 25 junior high, I middle school, 11 senior high, and one











exceptional student school. This is a reduction of three schools from those'operating in 1978-79, providing part of the basis for one of the major issues facing this system.

The budget for this school district is funded through federal,

state, and local sources. The anticipated budget of $252,361,382 for 1979-80 was supported by the following: federal, 7.3 percent; state, 57.9 percent; and local district and fund balance, 34.8 percent. It has risen from a total budget of $230,643 in 1978-79, an increase of 9.4 percent. The budget for 1979-80 included a 7 percent raise in salaries for both administrative/supervisory and non-instructional staff, as well as a 7 percent increase in instructional salaries.


Achievement Levels

An analysis of results of the state student assessment given to students in grades three, five, eight, and 11 on basic skills and functional literacy indicates that students in the county perform at approximately the same level as other students in Florida. A comparison of the results of the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS) which is given to all students in kindergarten through tenth grade indicates that these students achieve at or above the national average for all grades. Students in the county scored higher on the Scholastic Aptitude Test, administered to.college-bound seniors annually, than the national average, Florida average, or the Southeastern United States average which indicated an increase in scores from previous years.










District Office

A new multi-million dollar district office building was completed during the 1978-79 school year through combining local and federal monies. It was officially dedicated in July, 1979. This construction enabled the too levels of the school hierarchy to be grouped at one site rather than spread about the district. The Superintendent's Office was officially moved from the County Courthouse and is located on the first floor of the new building. All assistant superintendents' offices are located on the second and third floors of the building. Administrative Organization of the District

The school district may be best described as a unified city-county school system (Andes et al., 1971). It is a highly centralized bureaucracy governed by an elected school board and appointed superintendent. A school board publication outlines the respective job responsibilities (Hillsborough County School Board, 1978).

School board. The district school board is composed of seven

board members who-Are-elected to foor-yedr terms by registered voters. Five board members are elected from geographic areas and must reside in that area in order to run for office. Two additional board members are elected as county-at-large members. All seven board members are elected by a county wide ballot. The school board is considered a policy making group for the school system. They can take no formal action as individuals and must act within the requirements of state law and regulation (Chapter 230, Florida Statutes). The school board meets every other Tuesday. One session is considered a work session and the other a regular meeting. Special meetings are called at the recommendation of the superintendent.










District office staff. The size of the district school office in this school district is so large that it is almost impossible for any one person to have an'indepth knowledge of all the processes involved within the school system and thus to have much impact on overall decisions made within the district. The communication between groups within the district organization is hampered somewhat because of its very magnitude and the specialization of personnel in each of the divisions. This situation has been aided somewhat by the enhanced physical closeness that was achieved by the move to the centrally located building for the upper echelon of district staff during the past year. The county also attempted to meet the communication needs of its organization by the development of the Superintendent's Educational Management Group in the Spring of 1977. This organization will be discussed in more detail in a latter portion of this chapter.

Attorney and auditor. The district school board has employed both an attorney and an internal auditor and assistant who report to them directly and are not under the superintendent's administrative control. The internal auditor and his assistant are charged with the responsibility of notifying the school board of any discrepancies that might exist in the financial records of the district and attend all school board meetings. The internal auditor's office is located within the District Office Building on the first floor.

The attorney also attends all school board meetings and responds to requests by members of the school board for legal opinions concerning certain deliberations or actions being considered by the board.










Superintendent's office. The superintendent ofthe county is appointed by the seven member school board for a period of time and salary established by that body (Florida Statute 230.321). The superintendent is the executive office of the school district and, with the school board, directs and controls all public schools within the district (Florida Statute 230.35). The superintendent is responsible for assisting in the organization of the school board, attending all regular school board meetings, and calling special meetings when necessary. He/she is also responsible for keeping minutes of all official board actions and proceedings. He/she acts as custodian for all school property; prepares long-term and annual plans for the school program; establishes, organizes, and operates schools, classes, and services in order to provide adequate educational opportunities for all children; directs the work of personnel; and attends to the welfare of all children within the district. The superintendent is responsible for recommending adequate transportation and school plant needs; maintaining financial records and budget; enforcing laws and regulations; cooperating with the school board; informing the general public of educational programs, needs, and objectives of the public education program within the district (Florida Statute 230.35).

Directly responsible to the superintendent and based within the superintendent's office are the administrative assistant and public information officer. The administrative assistant, required to hold a graduate degree in administration and supervision, is primarily responsible for conducting all collective bargaining sessions for the










school board as well as conducting hearings and to answer employee grievances filed with the superintendent. This staff member is responsible for acting as system liaison with the district wide Citizen Bi-Racial Committee which was ordered by the U.S. District Court of Appeals in'June, 1971. He/she is also responsible for acting as liaison for the District Parent Teacher Association Joint Advisory Committee and School Volunteers. The administrative assistant coordinates the superintendent's budget preparation as well.

The public information officer is required to hold a current

teaching certificate and to have had successful experience in dealing with the public information field, especially with the media. The public information officer has the prime responsibility of acting as a liaison with the public, schools and the school board, and keeping all informed of events taking place within the school system that might impact upon any one of them. This person is also responsible for developing and distributing newsletters and other communicative vehicles to staff, school board members, and the public. A Fact Sheet is prepared prior to each school board meeting informing all who are interested of the major topics to be considered by that body at its next meeting. A School Board'Digest is made available the day after each school board meeting indicating the major decisions that were made by that group. The person currently holding this office developed a history of the earliest district schools in observation of the Bicentennial Year, annually develops materials to be used during the American Education Week and is always on call to provide











whatever information may be requested from any public or private source. He/she is probably best seen and described by other members of the school district as a "talented back-up person who has all the right answers at the right time" and can organize information in order for all groups to understand and have confidence

in what is occurring within the school system.

Assistant superintendents. The superintendent of the county has six assistant superintendents who work directly under his/her administrative control in the areas of business and research, personnel, supportive services, administration and operations, instruction and vocational-technical and adult education. Job descriptions are published for each of the division heads as well as for those persons who hold administrative, supervisory or instructional roles under their immediate administrative direction. All have their offices in the District Office Building and employ vastly different numbers of personnel (Table 3). Salaries for assistant .superintendent are approximately 17 percent higher than those for general or general area directors.

All assistant superintendent positions are currently held by men who have master's degrees and have served for more than 20 years in some capacity in the school system. The average years in education for the six persons are 29.6 with the Assistant Superintendent for Vocational Education having the fewest--21 years. All had previous experience in the school district prior to becoming an assistant superintendent.












Table 3


Employess in District Offices, Sites Directly Administered by
Assistant Superintendents and Staff, 1979-80


Division No. of No. of Secretar., No. of Admin. Offices or Diff. Sites,
District Staff Technical, Aide, Job Descrip. Major Subdivis. Offices,
Laborers; % of Total Locations


Administration & Operations Business & Research Instruction Support Services Personnel Vocational, Technical, Adult TOTAL


97 133 204 140

68 144 786


51% 68% 55% 38% 59% 35% 50%










The Assistant Superintendent for Administration has 97 persons who work in his office. Of these, 50 hold secretarial, clerk or aide positions for a total of 51 percent of his total staff. Thirtyone administrative job descriptions are given for staff in this area indicating a wide diversity of tasks addressed, and there are 18 major functions or areas of expertise described. These staff are located at 22 different sites.within the district. Although this division is next to last in total number of district staff members employed by a given division, the job responsibilities of this particular individual touch a significant number of other persons not indicated in these statistics.

This assistant superintendent is given the responsibility of coordinating and evaluating the activities of all principals in the district,, "enhancing the effective performance" of each of the other assistant superintendents and determining and recommending the number and type of teachers t o be employed each year. He also is responsible for coordinating all policy making; reviewing and reorganizing staff duties and responsibilities planning building priorities disseminating information from all departments via a weekly newsletter and preparing the agenda and presiding over the District Principals' Meeting. The assistant superintendent has direct administrative control over all school plant planning and construction, grounds and maintenance, school food services, pupil administrative and Affirmative Action planning. This individual was also given the responsibility of presiding over the weekly meetings of the Superintendent's Educational Management Team when it was first initiated until, at the end of the first year, members asked that the superintendent chair the meetings.











The Assistant Superintendent for Business and Research has 133 employees assigned to his office at the district level. Ninety-one of these hold clerical or secretarial positions for a total of 68 percent of the total work force in that division. Eighteen administrative job descriptions in 21 offices found at only three sites are described. This assistant superintendent is charged with the responsibility of supervising the departments of finance, data processing, school transportation, payroll, purchasing, and central warehouse. He is also directly responsible for developing recommendations for a viable research program as well as supporting the management information system for the entire district. He is charged to work with all other assistant superintendents in assisting them to carry out their functions.

The Assistant Superintendent for Instruction has the largest

number of district staff assigned to his division. Of the 204 district staff members, 112 are secretarial, clerical or custodial, for 55 percent of the total staff. Sixty-five administrative job descriptions are included for this division, more than.twice as many as any other division except the vocational division. Nineteen major offices at ten different sites are described and include athletics, educational planning, media, central libraries and printing, textbooks, elementary education, education for exceptional students, secondary education, ROTC, staff development, and student services. Input to each school in the district is provided by personnel in each of the areas described above.










The Assistant Superintendent for Personnel has the smallest district staff in the county. Of the 68 staff members, 40 are identified as clerical or secretarial or 50 percent of the total staff. Four major areas,(personnel placement, instructional and non-instructional; security, and risk management and safety) are .described at three different sites with 13 administrative jobs outlines. This assistant superintendent is given responsibility for recruitment, assignment, transfer, coordination of the substitute program, maintenance of certification and personnel records for all staff, retirement and employee insurance as well as development of safety provisions for the entire district. Thirteen administrative jobs are described in three different sites.

The Assistant Superintendent for Support Services employs 140

staff at the district level. Fifty-three, or 38 percent of the staff, are clerical or secretarial staff. This division has 23 major units, the largest of all the divisions in the district. Offices are located at 16 different sites and include programs located in private and parochial schools in the district. All federal programs are administered through this office as well as the Office of Human Relations for the district.

The Assistant Superintendent for Vocational, Technical and Adult Education employs the second largest number of district staff with the smallest percentage of secretarial or clerical staff (35 percent). This assistant superintendent has administrative responsibility over eight programs on 43 sites. These sites include all adult education and community schools centers as well as programs for juvenile











offenders, vocational evaluation, Comprehensive Employment and Training Program (CETA), occupational specialists, and vocational supervisors for each of the vocational areas (see Table 4).

General director and directors. Each of the six major divisions is-- further subdivided into specific programs headed by either a general director or director. Persons filling either of these two job classifications report directly to the assistant superintendent of that division. General directors and directors are both 12 month employees but salaries are approximately 7.6 percent higher for general directors. General area directors are also classified as general directors for salary purposes.

The designation of a particular person as a general director

rather than director appears to be a function both of the individual who held the position at the time it was so designated and the desire to have an intermediate step between the director and assistant superintendent relative to salary. Longevity in.a given job or within the district administrative system is not rewarded directly by an increase in salary. Only rank is so recognized with approximately $1.73 per day for each increase in rank. Approximately 50 percent of all persons designated as general directors or directors have attained or are working on an advanced degree beyond the master's level.

Directors or general directors are given the responsibility of

total coordination of their particular programs. They must coordinate all services and activities within their designated areas and serve as a member of their Division Team, both at meetings and at the request of their assistant superintendent.

















General Area General Asst. Principals,
Division Directors Directors Directors Directors Superv. Specialists, TOTAL
Assistants, or
Coordinators

Administration &
Operations 4 1 6 0 10 26 47

Business & Research 0 0 3 2 15 22 42

Instruction 0 3 4 0 36 49 92

Personnel 0 0 1 0 7 20 28

Support Services 0 0 2 0 19 66 87

Vocational, Technical
& Adult 0 1 4 0 25 64 94

TOTAL 4 5 20 2 112 247 390


Tabl e 4

Administrative Staff Found Within Divisions











General area directors. The county is subdivided into four geographical areas, each supervised by a general area director who is under the direct administrative control of the Assistant Superintendent of Administration and Operations. These four persons are primarily responsible for maintaining a direct liaison with schools in a given area and the District Office. Area directors approve use of school facilities, preside over Area Principals' Meetings, visit school centers, and make recommendations in all areas, investigate complaints against schools and personnel, visit classes and make recommendations to instructional supervisors. In addition, this individual aids in the development of transportation schedules, school schedules, budgets, rezoning recommendations, school attendance areas, and evaluates principals of schools. Offices for the directors are maintained both in the areas in which they work as well as in the District Office Building immediately adjacent to the Administration and Operations Section.

Salaries for the general area directors are the same as the

general directors--approximately 17 percent less t han the assistant superintendents.

Principals. All principals in this county are directly responsible to the Assistant Superintendent for Administration and Operations. Each is required to hold a valid Rank II certificate including administration and supervision. Elementary principals must be certified in elementary administration and supervision and high school principals in secondary administration and supervision. All principals must have three years of full-time successful experience as a teacher. The principal is considered the administrative and supervisory head










of the school and is responsible for administering the policies of the school board as directed by the superintendent and administrative staff. The principal has the major responsibility of selecting, with the assistance of the Assistant Superintendent of Personnel, all teachers and to'make recommendation for employment to the superintendent. The principal has the responsibility for staff leadership in the development of an effective instructional program. He or she is the manager of the financial affairs of the school and supervisor of the school plant.

Assistant principal for curriculum. The assistant principal for curriculum must hold a Rank II or higher certificate with administration and supervision indicated. This person must also have completed three years of full-time successful experience as a teacher or administrator. The responsibilities of this position include supervising and coordinating the total program of studies for the school; completing special reports for the district, state, or Southern Association; supervising the securing of substitutes; maintaining the school room use chart and organizational chart for the teaching staff; supervising and approving requests for field trips; meeting with.advisory groups; and development a faculty handbook. Additionally, this individual is responsible for assisting in the public relations arena with the principal; assisting in the evaluation of teachers, assisting the deans with unique disciplinary problems, assisting with the interviewing and recommending of new staff-, and other duties the principal may assign.










Assistant principal for administration. This assistant

principal must hold a Rank II or higher certificate with administration and supervision included and have completed three years of successful teaching or administrative experience. This principal has the primary responsibility of supervising and coordinating the total school athletic program, issuing the daily bulletins, supervising the maintenance of the school plant, assisting in the public relations activities, assisting in the evaluation of teachers and other staff,-, assisting in developing policies, assisting the deans with unique disciplinary problems', assisting in interviewing and recommending the employment of new staff, and other special duties assigned by the principal.

Assistant principal for management. The assistant principal for management is also required to hold a Rank II certificate with both supervision and administration listed. Three years of full-time successful work in the classroom or as an administrator are also required. This administrator is responsible for supervising and coordinating the Dean's Office and all reports from it; supervising and coordinating all student activities, clubs, etc. other than the athletic activities; supervising and maintaining the school activities calendar; coordinating committees and reports such as FTE, textbooks, student lockers; personnel injuries; student handbook; assisting in the public relations activities; interviewing new staff; and assuming other special duties as requested by the principal.

Dean. The dean is a part of the administrative team within each school and must hold a Rank II or higher certificate covering











administration. Supervision must be added to the certificate within a given period of time. The dean is directly responsible to the .principal and is acting principal during the absence of the principal and the assistant principals. He/she assists in the preparation of the master schedule'and is responsible for student registration and scheduling, pupil accounting, and truancy. He/she has the prime responsibility for establishing programs toAevelop a high level of self-discipline among students and is responsible for procuring school and community personnel services to aid students who are exhibiting significant problems behaviorally. This person supervises the student clinic and oversees the development of programs.


Formal Procedures for Decision-Making

The county utilizes six basic components in the district-wide decision making process. These components include the Assistant Superintendents' Meetings, the Superintendent's Educational Management Group, Division Meetings, Program Staff Meetings, Area Staff Meetings, and Principals Meetings.

Assistant superintendents' meeting. The assistant superintendents serve as an advisory group for the superintendent of schools. This group meets weekly and discusses all items of major importance that may be developing in each respective division. This gives each of the assistant superintendents an opportunity to express the degree of involvement of their division in any given issue resolution and to establish major policy statements for future consideration by the school board and by respective groups within the educational system. No official minutes are maintained for this exclusive group and only











assistant superintendents, the superintendent, and administrative assistant are regular members. This group is considered by most persons interviewed as the major policy determining group in the entire system and was referred to as "the inner sanctum."

Superintendent's Educational Management Group. This group,

usually referred to as SEMG, was established in March, 1977, for the primary purpose of improving communication among members of the administrative staff within the district and serving as an advisory group for the superintendent. Stated objectives include:

1. To gain input into administrative decision making from representatives of the principals, assistant principals, deans, supervisors and director's groups.

2. To disseminate information about administrative decisions to all members of the group.

3. To establish greater credibility for administrative decisions among the members of the various groups.

4. To establish a total management team approach to the decision making process.

5. To make recommendations to the superintendent for his consideration, and to take the recommendations he feels are valid to the school board.

6. To develop a forum where common problems may be aired.

7. To arrive at management salary and fringe benefit considerations without adversary bargaining.

8. To develop appreciation for all divisions of the school

system (budgets, curriculum, facilities, administration, supervision, etc.) and understand the interrelationships.










Thirty-four members were originally appointed: all the assistant superintendents, all general directors, all area directors, two directors, two supervisors, four elementary principals, two junior high principals, two senior high principals, two assistant principals, one community school administrator, and two deans. The Assistant Superintendent for Administration was originally designated by the superintendent as chairman of this group although this was changed after the first evaluation in May, 1978, and the superintendent now presides.

Major areas of discussion include items on the agenda of the school board, significant items of concern, and items of general interest. Consensus is usually obtained on major items although formal voting does not occur. Minutes are kept of all meetings.

At its inception, a survey was conducted concerning those issues this organization should investigate in-depth. Interestingly, the PL-94-142 issue in 1977, before actual implementation was begun, was listed as the 39th concern by SMEG. After the problems.of implementation were felt, it became the most significant for many persons. Closing of schools was listed in eighth position and the smoking issue, not reactivated at the time of the poll, was not indicated among the top 43 concerns. After this group met for one year, an evaluation was conducted and weaknesses were identified and possible improvements recommended.

Division directors' meetings. Each assistant superintendent is responsible for having meetings with general directors and directors at least monthly. Such meetings occur differently for different











divisions. The major purpose of this group is to hear problems, discuss resolution, discuss information shared at the SEMG meeting and to discuss possible ramifications of decisions of that body and the school board. Significant items are then directed to the assistant superintendent's group or to the Superintendent's Educational Management Group for further discussion and/or resolution. The perception of effectiveness of these groups varies widely from division to division although these groups are the most potentially influential for establishing specific procedures necessary for implementing or continuing any activity for that particular division. Most recommendations from this group are usually accepted unless there is significant overlap into other divisions' arenas or if there is public or informal group involvement and interest counter to the proposal.

General director/director's meetings. Each general director or director directly responsible administratively to an assistant superintendent is charged with the responsibility of meeting with top staff in his/her program and seeing that all facets of the program run smoothly. These meetings occur at the discretion of the director of that particular program. Recommendations from these groups are then shared with the assistant superintendent or with the general directors/directors of that division. These groups are perceived to be very influential in reaching resolution on issues specific

-to them but have little major policy making importance, especially if the director does not wish to support the recommendations of the group.











Area meetings. Each area director is charged with the

responsibility of meeting with all principals in his/her area on a regular basis. This person is given the responsibility of acting as chief liaison between the school principals and the District Office and'is to share all pertinent information and directives from the District Office that concern school administration in that particular area's schools. Few major decisions seem to be made by these groups and they are perceived by others as being primary information dissemination vehicles. Principals indicated they relied more on their peer groups rather than the area principals when a significant issue is discussed.

Principals' meetings. All elementary, junior high, and high

school principals have regularly scheduled meetings with their peers. This occurs at least monthly. The major purpose of these meetings is to share information impacting upon the delivery of services to an particular group of schools, to make recommendations on decisions that may affect that group and to discuss issues of interest and make recommendations to the District Office. A chairman is elected from each body and remains in that office for a year. The chairman represents the principal's group on the Superintendent's Educational Management Group. At least one other member of that principal's group also serves as a representative.

Recommendations from each group may be made directly to the

superintendent, to the Assistant Superintendent for Administration, to the area directors, or to the school board. Each principal interviewed denied being restricted to a channel through the Assistant Superintendent of Administration.










These groups are considered by many persons interviewed to be quite powerful and to have much impact on decision making in the district. The secondary principals are seen as most and junior high principals are seen as least influential by most respondents including themselves.


Summary

This chapter has presented a description of the setting within which this study was conducted., The environmentsboth community and educational, are described in some detail. Formal groups that participate in the decision making process are also described.















CHAPTER IV

PROCEDURES


Introduction

In this chapter, the procedures utilized in this study of an urban county in Florida with a description of the sample, instrumentation, and interviewing procedures are presented. A description of the procedures used in analyzing the data is also included.



Overview

The design employed in this study is an adaptation of that

developed by Kimbrough (1975) and used in studies of community and organizational leadership (Bartholomew, 1972; Collins, 1979; Fleming, 1963; lannaccone, 1959; Johns & Kimbrough, 1968; McCluskey, 1973). A case study of the decision making process and the identified influentials in a selected urban school district was completed. This district was selected because of its size, proximity to the home of the researcher, and because ft is considered by a number of educators to be a prime example of an effective bureaucratic educational organization.










Sample


The sample selected for this study included administrative staff from both the district and school levels, and school board members from a large urban school district in Florida of between 75,000 and 125,000 students. Data obtained from interviews with these individuals were used to determine which.individuals and which major decision areas were investigated in depth.


The Interview Sample

The field research portion of this study was initiated with the selection of a cross-section of persons who generated a list of individuals they perceived to be influential in the decision making process in the school system as well as to identify issues they fel.t were important to the school system during the past three years. Subsystems within the system were identified and representative persons were chosen from within each of those groupings. Segments of the school district that were selected included each of the divisions of the district school board office, principals' groups, and school board members (see Table 5). Interviews With the Selected Informants

Interview Guide A (see Appendix A) was used in interviewing the

59 selected informants in regard to the identification of influential, issues, and organizations within the school district that were important in educational decision making. Each individual was contacted and interviewed using the questions contained in Interview Guide A. The objectives of the study were explained and each participant was assured of his/her anonymity.











Table 5

Number and Percentage of Total Division Staff
Initially Interviewed


Division or Major Group Number Interviewed Percentage of
Total Staff

School Board 3 43

Division of Administration 9 21

Division of Business 5 10

Division of Instruction 9 10

Division of Personnel 4 7

Division of Support Services 3 10

Division of Vocational-Technical 4 10

Senior High Principals 2 18

Junior High Principals 4 16

Elementary Principals 16 18

TOTAL 59 15



Instrumentation


The major instruments used in this study were adaptations of the Interview Guides. developed by Kimbrough (1975). These were used to elicit essential information concerning the power structure, influentials, and significant issues or decision made within the district.










Interview Guide A

Interview Guide A (Appendix A) was used to identify the most significant issues or problems with which the organization has had to contend over the past three years. Those persons were then identified who were-seen to be the most influential in the initiation or implementation phases of these-issue areas. Those organizations viewed by those persons interviewed as having the most influence on decision making in the schools were identified. Also identified were those persons within those influential organizations who were perceived to have exerted the most influence in specific problem resolution.

Interview Guide B

Interview Guide B (Appendix B) was used with those persons

identified in the initial interview as having or wielding significant power within the district organization. Personal data as well as opinion concerning the relative weight of involvement in issues were elicited from each identified influential. Personal information concerning each influential interviewed was also obtainedduring-the interview process.


Initial Interviews


Selected professional staff in the administrative structure of

the district schools as well as school board members were interviewed, and data were collected regarding those persons perceived as influential, issues of importance, and influential involvement in the resolution of










those issues studied. In order to effectively identify leaders and groups who were influential as well as the significant decisions in the school district, a cross-section of persons was chosen for the initial interviews with Interview Guide A. A random sample from each of the major segments of the district office, the school board, and the principals'-groups was made. Fifty-nine persons from the abovementioned groups were interviewed with the use of the initial interview guide. From 7 to 43 percent of professional members of each group participated in the interview sessions. Each person was interviewed and responded to the questions indicated in that document.


Follow-Up Interviews


Interview Guide B was used in this study to interview those persons designated as influential. It was also used in order to determine their involvement with specific decisions made for the district as well as their involvement in groups that are considered powerful.

Persons designated as influential were determined to be those

persons who were selected by three or more of the initial interviewees as being significant decision makers in the district school system. Relative influence among designated leaders as well as their involvement in influential groups was also ascertained both by self-report and report of other influential.

Influential formal organizations were identified by those persons responding to Interview Guide A. Further investigation of those named as most influential was conducted in more depth during the second










series of interviews. Questions were phrased about decision making within the total district in order to encourage respondents to discuss in great detail their perception of both the formal and informal decision making process in the school district. Data collected from the responses to these questions were exceedingly helpful in the later interpretation of roles and relationships that existed within the organization.

Three decisions were selected from those that were mentioned by persons interviewed as being most significant. Two were selected because they were ranked by those persons interviewed initially as the two most important or significant decisions. The third issue was selected because it was an issue that wascurrently being considered by the school board and the investigator was able to observe some of the involvement of the influential in reaching resolution. The three decisions were (a) the funding and resultant requirements of federal funding for the handicapped, (b) the closing of schools in the district, and (c) the decision to ban smoking by students on high school campuses. For each of the decisions made or being made, each influential was asked to determine the position he/she took, contacts made, and the manner in which the decision was finally resolved. Opportunity was given to each person to comment freely on the issues or on related issues. Documentary evidence as well as observation of the activities of some of the formal groups was used in studying the individual decisions.










Data Analysis


Data from this study were utilized in a descriptive manner using total raw data as well as rank order of responses. A configuration of the decision making structure as it existed at the time the study was completed was obtained by utilizing analyses of individual influential, formal and informal relationships, and decisions or issues confronting the district. Persons Identified as Influential

Each of the identified leaders was ranked by each of the

other leaders as well as by himself/herself on a five-point scale. Each rating was assigned a weighting of seven to zero with seven representing "exceptionally strong district wide influence," five indicating "strong district wide influence," three representing "strong special area and some district wide influence," one representing "some special area but little district wide influence" and zero indicating "little special area or district wide influence." Each of the ratings was then added, divided by the highest possible total raw score and multiplied by 100 to reach a simple proportion. This score was used as one of the three factors utilized for the final ranking of the influential. These dysynchronous weightings were used in order to adjust for respondents' propensity to attach more importance or significance to the meaning of extreme choices. The connotation of the superlatives used in designating the different columns may reflect certain biases on the part of the respondents. This procedure is often used in population and descriptive studies.










The second factor used for assessing total influence was

,district/statewide influence ranking. A district/state influence score was derived by dividing the number of times an influential was recognized as having district and/or state influence by the total number of interviews of influential and then multiplying by 100 to calculate a simple proportion.

The third factor utilized was the total number of times an

influential was mentioned as being influential in the initial interviews. This total was divided by the total number of interviews and then multiplied by 100 for a simple proportion.

Other information was collected concerning each identified leader in the district. Specific questions concerning friendships, organizations to which each person belonged, persons whom the influential could count on for support or opposition for projects, educational background and experience were included. Decisions or Issues Identified as Significant

Three decisions were studied in depth during this investigation. Decisions were selected because of their being mentioned most often by the initial interview sample. Data collected both in the initial and follow-up interviews were utilized as were secondary sources of information such as minutes of school board meetings, discussions with persons who were in attendance at specific meetings, newspaper accounts of specific actions as well as documents s hared by the different divisions with specific groups within the organization. The events that led to and related with the decision were presented in both narrative and chronological order. Chapter V contains a







58


description of the decisions with regard to detailed actions of the influentials in the decision making process concerning each specific issue.
















CHAPTER V

RESULTS


In this chapter, the results and findings are presented in accordance with the procedures as outlined in Chapter IV. A combination of adaptations of the reputational and decision analysis techniques was used in completing this study. The reputational method was used to identify decision makers and to assess their influence with other influentials as well as with other persons involved in the decision making process. The decision analysis method was used to investigate decisions or issues that were perceived to be important to the school community and the role of the identified influentials in-reaching resolution of the identified problems.


Identification of Influentials


The selected informants were asked to identify those persons they considered to be influential in the decision making process within the school system and with the specific issues addressed. Twenty-nine persons were nominated as being influential in the school district. Of these 29, 13 were mentioned by three or more persons as being particularly influential in decision making, both as an individual and as a member of a group (Table 6).

















Influential Position Number of Times Rank
Selected

RS Superintendent of Schools 41 1

PW Asst. Supt., Administration 27 2

SR Executive Dir., BCEA 24 3

FF Asst. Supt., Instruction 18 4

JL Gen. Dir., Exceptional Students 10 5.5

MR Chairperson, School Board 10 5.5

LW Gen. Dir., Elementary Education 8 7

WH Asst. Supt., Business 6 '8.3

BH Member, School Board 6 8.3

LF Secondary Principal 6 8.3

RS Asst. Supt., Vocational Education 4 11.3

RC Asst. Supt., Personnel . 4 11.3

HC Asst. Supt., Support Services 4 11.3


Table 6

Persons Nominated by Three or More Persons As Being
Influential in the Decision Making Process











A follow-up interview was designed to obtain personal data

about each individual as well as to measure the degree of influence which the influential attributed to each other, to organizational memberships, and to influential' participation in these activities and involvement in major issues.

Administrative personnel within the school system as well as school board members and the executive director of the county educational association were nominated as influential. All administrative divisions of the school bureaucracy were represented b y their assistant superintendents and only the Divi.sion of Instruction was represented by more than one person. Two school board members were indicated as being influential in decision making; one is the current chairperson and the other filled that position last term and has the longest tenure on the board. The executive director of the education association was indicated as being influential, but.only as a member of-the group he represented. His name was indicated only once apart from the group itself.


Rankings of the Leaders

Weighted influence ranking. All of those persons nominated as being influential by the first group of interviewees were asked to rate both themselves as well as the other influential as outlined in Interview Guide B (Appendix B). Each influential was ranked according to a five factor scale by every other influential and by himself. The five factors were (a) exceptionally strong district wide influence, (b) strong district wide influence, (c) strong special area and some district wide influence, (d) some special but










little district wide influence, and (e) little special area or district wide influence. Each of the columns was assigned a weighting in order to recognize respondents' inclination to attach more importance or significance to the meaning of words denoting the extremes, e.g.,'"exceptionally" and "little." These total scores were calculated-by adding the number of weighted points in each column for each influential. These overall scores were then used to place individuals in a hierarchy of influence (Table 7).

Table 7

Categories and Weights Assigned Interview Guide B


Category Weighting

Exceptionally strong district wide influence 7

Strong district wide influence 5

Strong special area and some district wide 3
influence

Some special area but little district wide 1
influence

Little special area or district wide influence 0




The raw score was computed by the number of points each individual was given in each of the five categories, multiplied by the weighting, and then added together. The weighted column placement was calculated by dividing the total raw score by the total possible score and multiplying by 100. A perfect raw score would be 84 since one of the influential refused to rank the other influential in the group.










An examination of the data in Table 8 reveals that scores range from a high of 100.00 to a low of 34.52. The Assistant Superintendent for Administration was the only person who rivaled the superintendent who had a perfect weighted score of 100.00. The Assistant Superintendent had nine exceptionally strong district wide and two strong district wide influence votes for his total of 90.47.

Only three of the six assistant superintendents, but both the

school board members, are in the upper half of the listing. Both of the general directors, on the third level on the administrative chart, are found in the lower half of the table but are ranked higher than the three assistant superintendents. The executive director of the county education association was ranked seventh with a score of 57.14, higher than the general directors and three of the assistant superintendents.

District/statewide influence ranking. Each influential was asked to-name those influential whom he or she believed had district wide or statewide influence in educational matters. A district/state influence score was derived by dividing the number of times an influential was recognized as having district or state influence by the total number of interviews. A simple proportion was then calculated by multiplying this score by 100, Among the influential interviewed, the highest score was 91, given to the superintendent. The lowest scores were awarded to the Assistant Superintendent for Support Services and the Assistant Superintendent for Administration with an 8.33 and the school board member and the principal of the high school with zero (Table 9).













Table 8

Weighted Column Placement of County Influentials
Interview Guide B


Influential Position Weighted Rank
Score

RS Superintendent 100.00 1

PW Asst. Supt., Administration 90.47 2

WH Asst. Supt., Business 71.42 3.5

FF Asst. Supt., Instruction 71.42 3.5

BH School Board Member 66.66 5

MR Chairperson, School Board 58.33 6

SR Exec. Director, Educ. Assoc. 57.14 7

LW Gen. Director, Elementary Ed. 52.00 8

JL Gen. Director, Excep. Students 47.61 9
RC Asst. Supt., Personnel 41.66 10

LF Principal, High School 36.90 11

RS Asst. Supt., Vocational-Technical 34.52 12.5

HC Asst. Supt., Support Services 34.52 12.5












Table 9

District/Statewide Influence Ranking of Identified Influentials


Influential Position Weighted Rank

Score

RS Superintendent of Schools 91.00 1

FF Asst. Supt., Instruction 75.00 2

JL General Director, Excep. Student 66.66 3

WH Asst. Supt., Business 50.00 4

LW General Director, Elementary Ed. 25.00 5.5

RS Asst. Supt., Vocational-Technical 25.00 5.5

MR Chairperson, School Board 16.66 7.3

SR Executive Director, Educ. Assoc. 16.66 7.3

RC Asst. Supt., Personnel 16.66 7.3

PW Asst. Supt., Administration 8.33 10.5

HC Asst. Supt., Support Services 8.33 10.5

BH Board Member 0 12.5

LF Principal, High School 0 12.5











Table 10 shows the compilation of the two scores achieved by

each of the influentials as they were ranked by the other influentials and by themselves. The ranking indicates the final ranking on the two indices used in Interview Guide B.

Table 10

Final Ranking of Influentials by Themselves and
Other Influentials Using Interview Guide B


Influential Position Weighted Local/State Rank
Column Influence
Score Score

RS Superintendent 100.00 91.00 1

FF Asst. Supt., Instruc. 71.42 75.00 2

WH Asst. Supt., Business 71.42 50.00 3

JL Gen. Dir., ESE 47.61 66.66 4

PW Asst. Supt., Admin. 90.47 8.33 5

LW Gen. Dir., Ele. Ed. 52.00 25.00 6

MR School Board Chairperson 58.33 16.66 7

SR Executive Dir., Educ. Asso. 57.14 16.66 8

BH School Board Member 66.66 0 9

RS Asst. Supt., Voc. Ed. 34.52 25.00 10

RC Asst. Supt., Personnel 41.66 8.33 11

HC Asst. Supt., Supp. Ser. 34.52 8.33 12

LF Secondary Principal 36.90 0 13











As seen by' themselves, the influential ranked the superintendent as the most influential, followed by the Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and the Assistant Superintendent for Business. The General Director, Exceptional Student Education, was ranked fourth, and the Assistant Superintendent for Administration, fifth, followed by the General Director for Elementary Education. The chairperson of the school board is the median ranked person. In the lower half of the rankings, the three shortest-tenured assistant superintendents, the school board member, and the executive director of the educational organization are found. The low local/state influence of the school board member and the Assistant Superintendent for Administration significantly lowered their respective scores and rankings.

Times nominated'ranking. The number of total times the identified influential was selected as being influential by the first group interviewed was also considered in perceiving the total influence of the individuals. The maximum number of times a person could be chosen was 57 and this number was divided into the total number of times a person was selected by one of the original informants. The resulting quotient was then multiplied by 100 in order to obtain a simple proportion (see Table 11).

The scores in this category ranged from a 71.92 to 7.01 with the superintendent scoring the highest followed by the Assistant Superintendent for Administration and the executive director of the educational association. The Assistant Superintendent for Instruction was the only other person selected by more than 25 percent of the total persons interviewed (Table 9).











Table 11

Persons Identified Three or More Times as Influential
With Interview Guide A


Influential Position Percentage of Rank
Total Group

RS Superintendent of Schools 71.921

PW Asst. Supt., Administration 47.36 2

SR Ex. Director, Educ. Association 42.10 3

FF Asst. Supt., Instruction 31.57 4

JL Gen. Dir., Ex. Student Ed. 17.54 5.5

MR Chairperson, School Board 17.54 5.5

LW Gen. Dir., Elementary Educ. 14.03 7

WH Asst. Supt., Business 10.52 8.3

BH Member, School Board 10.52 8.3

LF Principal, High School 10.52 8.3

RS Asst. Supt., Vocational-Technical 7.01 11.3

RC Asst. Supt., Personnel 7.01 11.3

HC Asst. Supt., Support Services 7.01 11.3




Comparison of final rankings of the leaders. Table 12 indicates the final rankins by two groups of persons; one questioned with Interview Guide A and the other with Interview Guide B, a non-randomly selected group. A comparison of the results of these two rankings indicated there was agreement as to the superintendent being the most influential and to the relative ranking in the lower half of influence











of the Assistant Superintentent for Personnel, the Assistant Superintendent for Support Services, and the Assistant Superintendent for Vocational-Technical Education--all assistant superintendents with shorter tenure than the other assistant superintendents.

Table 12

Comparison of Final Rankings by Two Groups, One Using
Interview Guide A and the Other Using Interview Guide B

Influential Position .Rank Rank
Interview Guide A Interview Guide B RS Superintendent of Schools 1 1

PW Asst. Supt., Administr. 2 5

SR Ex. Dir., Educ. Assoc. 3 8

FF Asst. Supt., Instruction 4 2

JL Gen. Dir., ESE 5.5 4

MR Chairperson, School Board 5.5 7

LW Gen. Dir., Elementary Ed. 7 6

WH Asst. Supt., Business 8.3 3

BH School Board Member 8.3 9

LF Secondary Principal 8.3 13

RS Asst. Supt., Vocational 11.3 10

RC Asst. Supt., Personnel 11.3 11

HC Asst. Supt., Support Ser. 11.3 12











There was, however, much greater divergence in perceived influence for the Assistant Superintendent for Administration, the general directors, and the Assistant Superintendent for Business. See Table 12 for a comparison of final rankings for Interview Guide A and Interview Guide B.


General Characteristics of the Influentials


A brief description of data from interviews using Interview

Guide B is presented and includes data on age, children, education, organizational memberships, and friendships. The above variables may impact upon the influential rankins in an organization and thus have importance to this study.



The ages of the influentials ranged from the middle thirties to the middle sixties. One of the influentials, the Executive Director of the education association was in his middle thirties; five individu als were in the 41-50 age grouping; and one was in the 61-70 grouping, the member of the school board who is planning retirement at the end of the year.


Sex

Males predominated in the list of influentials in this study. Only one female was in the list of indicated influentials and she was primarily indicated as being influential because of her status as chairperson of the district school board. Only two informants










saw her as having influence as an individual rather than as an officer of the school board.


Residence

Six of th e influential were lifetime residents of the area. All others have lived in the district for over 25 years with the exception of the superintendent who has lived in the county for the 13 years he has been superintendent. The highest ranked long-time resident was the Assistant Superintendent for Instruction. Eight of the influential graduated from high school in the school district. Years of Education

All of the influential who were employed by the school system have worked in education for more than 14 years. The superintendent, with a background in school finance, has served in a number of educational positions for 30 years; the Assistant Superintendent for Instruction has been in the educational program for 25 years; and the Assistant Superintendent for Administration has been in the school business for 40 years. The executive director of the education association has been a teacher for 14 years. The two school board members have served in their jobs as school board members for five years (chairperson) and 20 years (member and past chairperson). The present chairperson taught for one year immediately after her graduation from college.


Degrees Held

All of the school employees named as influential in the county hold at least a master's degree. Two of the persons have earned a











doctoral degree, the superintendent and the General Director of Exceptional Students. One other person, the General Director for Elementary Education, is completing his doctorate with Nova University this year. None of the assistant superintendents have a degree higher than a master's. Both school board members hold a bachelor's degree; the chairperson in speech therapy and the other member has a degree in business.

When asked why the dearth of doctorates at the assistant superintendent level, the answer uniformly given was that a doctorate would make no real difference. All of the persons holding those positions were where they wished to be and none wished to move to another position that would necessitate a higher degree. It was indicated that each of these persons was seen as retiring from those positions currently held and that they were competently carrying out the duties and responsibilities of those jobs. Those persons who did have doctorates or who were aspiring to complete advanced degrees were seen as either contemplating a move from the district and the degree would give more bargaining power or being considered as a possible assistant superintendent when persons currently holding those positions might retire. The superintendent was employed by the district school board and one of the criteria applicants for that office had to meet was to hold a doctorate.


Marital Status/Number of Children

All of the influential were married at the time of the interviews. All had at least one child who either did or does attend public schools. One, the principal of the high school, had six children; the











superintendent of schools had five; the school boardmember, four; both general directors had three; six influential had two children each, including five of the assistant superintendents; and two decision makers had one child each.


Identification of Formal Organizations and Informal Relationships


The relationships, both formal and informal, among the influentials in this school district organization, are examined and discussed in this section. Using the interview data from Interview Guide B (Appendix B), a number of relationships were identified. The formal relationships included membership in professional and community organizations as well as the identification of the important form organizations themselves. The informal relationships included close friendships, project friends, and project opponents. Formal Organizations

The identification of important organizations in the county is helpful to this study because it provides the context through which decisions and persons are influenced in making decisions. A study of the data obtained from Interview Guide A (Appendix A) indicates that 28 organizations were mentioned three or more times as having influence in the decision making process (see Table 13).

The county teachers' association was indicated as influential

40 times, or 70 percent, of the total group interviewed. Senior high principals were mentioned second most often as being influential and 28 persons, or 49 percent of the total interviewed, felt this group


















Organization Number of Percentage of
Times Selected Total


County Education Association 40 70

Senior High Principals 28 49

County School Board 24 42

Elementary Principals 21 37

Citizens Advisory Committee 21 37

Superintendent's Educational 16 28
Management Group

PTA County Council 12 21

Assistant Superintendents 9 16

Junior High Principals 9 16

Urban League/NAACP 6 11

Parent Advisory Group 4 7

Area Directors 3 5

Biracial Committee 3 5

Vocational Advisory Committee 3 5


Table 13

Organizations Identified Three or More Times
as Influential' by Selected Informants











was significantly important in decision making. Thedistrict school board was third in the number of votes it received with 24, or 42 percent of the total persons interviewed. Elementary principals and the Citizens' Advisory Committee both received 21 votes, or 37 percent of the total'. The Superintendent's Educational Management Group was indicated as being influential in decision making by 16 persons, or by 28 percent of the total group interviewed. The PTA County Council, of which the chairperson of the school board was chairperson prior to being elected to the school board, received 12 votes, or 27 percent of the total. Assistant superintendents and junior high principals both received nine votes, or 16 percent of the total. Both the Urban League and the NAACP were indicated by six persons as being important groups impinging upon the decision making process. The remaining organizations were nominated fewer than five times.

The influential viewed the formal organizations impacting upon decision making in the school district differently. They felt that the Assistant Superintendents Group was the most important organization followed by the Division Meetings headed by the assistant superintendents. The Divisional Meetings were, according to the influential, extremely important to the entire decision making process because, unless a decision made a great deal of impact upon another division, those persons within that particular division made the decision. The Assistant Superintendent's Group then acted merely as a sounding board for the solution and passed it on to the Superintendent's Educational Management Group as a positive measure.











If, however, there was considerable impact on another division and there was a difference of opinion as to what the appropriate decision should be, the Assistant Superintendent's Group made the decision. That disagreement might flow on to the Superintendent's Educational Management Group but few decisions were countermanded by the superintendent or by the other groups that existed in the district with the exception of the school board.

The influential saw the school board as being very powerful if it chose to be. As mentioned earlier, most of the recommendations of the superintendent that the board voted against were special interest and largely non-curricular in nature, e.g., smoking areas, deciding where the high school football game would be played, etc. Most of the educational decisions were supported by the majority of the school board most of the time.

The principals' groups were also seen as influential in the

decision making process. The senior high principals were viewed as the most powerful both because they were few in number and there was less disagreement among them. They also had much contact with community leaders and parents via the sports activities and cultural events with which the elementary and junior high school principals were not as much involved. These groups were seen as being much more like-minded than were the area principals' groups.

Community groups had much impact on school board decisions if they became actively involved in school board meetings. The closing of schools was directly affected by minority groups' expressed interest in their community schools. As a result of this emotional











input, the school board directed the superintendent to rework the recommendations made to that group.

In summary, most of the decisions in this school district were made within the six divisions in the district office'. If major controversy occurredorif there was major overlap among division in the resolution of a given issue, the Assistant Superintendent's Group agreed upon a solution. Input may be given by other groups within the district but most decisions were not changed to any great degree after being made by one of these two groups. The Superintendent's Educational Management Group had effectively acted as a communication vehicle in informing members of the administrative community of major decisions and reasons for them. It did not, however, make major changes in decisions made by either of the two groups.

The superintendent was recognized as having the power to change any decision made by any group other than the school board. He did not use that power very often and usually supported his assistant superintendents' recommendations. He also refused to get involved in an inter-division disagreement concerning PL 94-142 monies and suggested that the disgruntled division member solve her problem within the division itself.

The school board usually supported the superintendent's recommendations. Rarely have they voted against his suggestions and then only if the issue concerned a special interest area for them or if the public became very involved in the concern.











Membership in Professional Organizations

All of the influentials were members of the associations that served their particular area of expertise with the exception of the Assistant Superintendent for Administration who listed the National Education Association and the local credit union as his only professional affiliations. Ten of the influentials listed national memberships and one, the General Director of Exceptional Students, served as a national officer in two organizations. Six influentials indicated holding state offices in their respective organization, served as secretary of the local Democratic Party, the only respondent who indicated direct political involvement as an office holder. The superintendent, three assistant superintendents, and the general directors indicated much informal political contact both through their organizations and individually. The newly formed Florida Association for School Administrators was seen as an important decision making organization in the state by eight of the 13 influentials.

Membership in Civic and Other Organizations

All of the influentials indicated varying degrees of involvement in civic and other organizations. Kiwanis, Chambers of Commerce, Hospital Board, Shriners, Sherriff's Possee, and church affiliations were all mentioned. Table 14 indicates the major affiliations of the influentials.

The Methodist Church was the most often mentioned organization to which the influentials belonged. This was a different church, however, for each influential. The Chamber of Commerce for different











Table 14

Major Affiliations of Influentials


Influential Pos iti on Affiliations


Superintendent of Schools





Assistant Supt. , Instruction Assistant Supt. , Adminis. Assistant Supt. , Business Gen. Dir., Ex. Students







Exec. Dir.,, Educ. Assoc. Chairperson, School Board




Gen. Dir., Elem. Ed. Member, School Board Asst. Supt., Voc. Ed. Asst. Supt., Personnel


Parent-Teacher Organizations; Hospital Board, Chamber of Commerce; United Fund Director; Boy Scouts; National Football Hall of Fame;, Golf Club

Major's Art Council; Methodist

Kiwanis; Kentucky Colonels

Business groups

Crewe of Knights of Sant Y Ago; Catholic School Board; McDonald Training Center; Lighhouse for the Blind; Mental Health Advisory Board; Bay Community College Citizens' Investigation Committee

Democratic Party (local)

Gov. Council on Criminal Justice; Commission on Crime Advocacy; Committee for Criminal Justice; Tampa Marine Institute; Methodist

Chamber of Commerce; Shrine; Masons; Bay County Posse
Kiwanis; Boy Scouts, Little League

Methodist Church

United Fund; Salvation Army; Little League











Table 14--Continued


Influe ntial Position Affiliations


HC Asst. Supt., Support Family Y; Sheriff's Advisory
Committee; Methodist
LF Secondary Principal Florida Sport Aviation;
Rotary; Chamber of Commerce (in three cities)


towns in the district made up the second-most often mentioned organization of which these leaders were members. United Fund, Kiwanis, and Boy Scouts were mentioned next. These were the only organizations that had influential members in common. All of the other organizations to .which the leaders belonged seemed to be indicative of their special interests, both recreational and civic.

Clubs and organizations did appear to be important sources of influence for the identified leaders in this district. The church affiliation was common for a number of these persons and, in a relatively conservative area, probably did have impact on their overall influence in the community. Membership in the Chamber of Commerce seemed to be a significant asset for several of the influentials as did Kiwanis and Boy Scouts.

The superintendent belonged to the most organizations and held the most offices in those groups. The organizations of which he was










a member werelocated in the county seat while others belonged to the same organization in other towns in the district, e.g., Chambers of Commerce. He was considered a member of "the society group."

The General Director of Exceptional Student Education was also a member of many organizations. A long term resident of the county, he had held many offices in the organizations to which he belonged. Hi:s influence was felt by many to be in large part a product of his being almost a "home-town boy" since he graduated from school in the area and knew many of the influential in the city from boyhood. His wife was a member of the Spanish community in the city and he was considered influential both by the Anglo and Hispanic populations.

The chairperson of the school board had also been a lifelong resident of the area. She had been involved in many areas but had been especially interested in the area of criminal justice for youth. She was recognized statewide for her endeavors and was named as a member of a state committee in criminal justice by the governor. She was associated with the large military population in the area through her husband who was a retired officer.

The high school principal was very involved in civic activities and indicated that he felt it was essential for secondary principals to become a part*of the community served by their school. He had many contacts in several of the communities in this county and maintained membership in the Chambers of Commerce in three different cities. His interest in his community was well known and he was asked to serve on the committee investigating the local community college.










.The Assistant Superintendent for Business was involved with a number of different business groups in the major city. He has served as an officer in these organizations and was considered a very knowledgeable person in his field. His expertise in the fihancial world was utilized by those organizations of which he was a member.

The Assistant Superintendent for Administration indicated

that he belonged to only Kiwanis and the Kentucky Colonels, joined when he was in Kentucky. He felt that organizational membership for the sake of knowing the community and influencing decisions was a Naste of time." He also felt that membership in professional organizations was "ridiculous" unless it served some specific need of the member. He appeared to feel that his knowledge was adequate to h andle the job and other information was unnecessary. He indicated that he was not well known in the community as were some of the other district staff members.


Informal Relationships and Friendships

Informal relationships have been shown to be of utmost importance in the decision making process. These may take the forms of friendships that revolve around memberships in organizations, coffee groups, or any other informal communicating enablers. An interesting array of relationships existed in the school district organization and is examined in this section.

Close friendships. The identified influential were given a list of the 13 influential indicated by the initial interviewees as important decision makers within the school organization. They were











asked to identify those persons whom they considered close friends and with whom they had a relationship that extended beyond the school day and duties associated with their jobs. Mutual choices were those choices made that were reciprocated by the person selected as a friend. Unilateral decisions or decisions made for another influential and not reciprocated were also noted.

Figure I shows the mutual choices made among the influentials in the school organization. The concentric circles indicate the groupings of influentials as indicated by their responses on Interview Guide B concerning their perceptions of their own influence as well as that of the other indicated influentials. The inner circle indicates those of slightly less influence; and the outside circle indicates those persons who have the least influence within the influential grouping.











SR R
LW

BH HC



Figure 1

Mutual Choices of Friendships Amongi Influentials











There were 18 choices made by the 13 influentials. Only one of these was a mutual choice. The other 17 choices were unilateral choices. One of the leaders, the Assistant Superintendent for Administration, refused to name any friends within the organization and the superintendent selected only professional friends.

The mutual choice made the Assistant Superintendent for

Instruction and the secondary principal (FF and LF) dated back, according to the influentials themselves, over many years. They had both been principals together and LF worked under FF's direction as his General Director of Secondary Education for several years. Although neither indicated their families had any~major interaction, they had attended meetings together and had remained close personal friends. Both indicated a close working relationship with the other and felt they had the same orientation to education.

Figure 2 indicates the choices made for all influentials by

each of the other influentials. As indicated above, only one mutual choice was made. The Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and the Assistant Superintendent for Administration received the most nominations with four each. The Assistant Superintendent for Business, the General Director for Exceptional Students, and the secondaryprincipal received three choices each. Th e executive director of the education association was selected once. None of the other six influentials was chosen by any other influential.

The Assistant Superintendent for Personnel chose the largest number of friends. Since his department crosses all department boundaries, he knows many people in the other divisions. He is also











the head of the negotiating team for the district and thus comes into contact with the membership in the educational association.


Figure 2

Mutual and Unilateral Choices Among Influentials


The Assistant Superintendent for Instruction (FF) was chosen by four other influentials as was the Assistant.Superintendent for Administration (PW). Only one of the persons who selected oneof the assistant superintendents also selected the other, i.e., the Assistant Superintendent for Support Services (HC). HC is the newest assistant superintendent within the organization and the only minority. He was described by two other influentials as the type of person who










"hedged his bets" and who wanted to avoid as much negative reaction as possible. Since his programs are greatly affected by both the Division of Instruction and the Division of Administration, it was not surprising to see both of these choices.

PW's other three choices were made by the General Director of Elementary Education and the two board members. LW was described as a person who "was on hisway up" and wanted to be where the power was. He indicated that PW was the most powerful person in the district office and, therefore, aligned himself with him. Another influential described LW as the kind of person who would "step on his own child to get to the top" but felt that his aligning himself with PW was not a reciprocal relationship.

Although the Assistant Superintendent for Instruction (FF) was described by many of his coworkers as being so democratic that division business failed to get accomplished because the time was spent allowing everyone affected to "have his say," he was also one of the two most often chosen by the other influential. Three of the other assistant superintendents felt he was their personal friend.

Project friends. When questioned about professional friendships, all school persons except the Assistant Superintendent for Administration indicated a strong positive feeling for others on the influential list. Especially.strong ties seemed to exist between and among the "old timers" with the exception of the Assistant Superintendent for Administration (PW) who expressed strong feelings about the school board members on the influential list. The school board members indicated positive ties with PW as well. The General Director of











Exceptional Students appeared to be quite close professionally to all of the assistant superintendents except PW who expressed negative feelings about the General Director of Exceptional Students (JL) in other discussions. The General Director for Elementary Education (LW) did not appear to have the same contacts with the assistant superintendents as did JL.

Table 15 indicates those persons perceived as helpful in having a project approved. The superintendent surpasses all other influential as being seen as supportive of projects. Most respondents felt that, by the time a proposal reached his desk, it would have received approval through the assistant superintendent's level and that the superintendent usually supported his assistant superintendents. If, however, a great deal of negative community or school board reaction was felt, the influential -saw the superintendent as backing down and either withdrawing the proposal or having it rewritten or reworked in order to remove the offending segments. The superintendent saw himself as a professional friend and supporter of all of the influential with the exception of the executive director of the education association.

The Assistant Superintendent for Administration was seen as.the second-most likely person to support a project or proposal. However, he was also seen as the most likely person to oppose a project. He was supportive only if he totally agreed with the thrust of the proposal and was non-supportive otherwise.

The Assistant Superintendent for Business was seen as the third most likely person to support action by other influential. The











power of finance was obviously recognized by all of the other influentials and they indicated they contacted this division early in the planning stages of a new project to see if support was forthcoming.

Table 15

Influentials Perceived to be Supportive or
Non-Supportive to Projects Proposed by Other Influentials


Influential Perceived As Perceived As
Supportive Non-Supportive

RS, Superintendent 8 2

FF, Asst. Supt., Instruction 4 1

WH, Asst. Supt., Business 3 0

JL, General Director, ESE 1 0

PW, Asst. Supt., Administration 5 6

LW, General Director, Elem. Ed. 0 1

MR, School Board Chairperson 2 2

SR, Executive Director, Ed. Assoc. 0 3

BH, School Board Member 2, 2

RS, Asst. Supt., Vocational 0 0

RC, Asst. Supt., Personnel 2 1

HC, Asst. Supt., Support Services 2 0

LF, Secondary Principal 1 0











School board members were also seen as supportive. Most

influentials reported some preliminary contact with members prior to official presentation of a project to the total board. Both school board members indicated they appreciated this move and felt no reluctance on the part of the superintendent for his assistants to do this. The superintendent also supported this move by his staff although he wanted to be aware of and in agreement with the situation in question. The superintendent perceived the school board as being very supportive of his requests. Other influentials agreed but felt this was because the superintendent was able to assess the board's feeling and know if any proposal "had a 100 percent chance of passing." Most of the "no" votes he had received were seen as primarily noneducational and insignificant to the major educational process.

Project opponents. The Assistant Superintendent for Administration (PW): was perceived as the person most likely to be against a particular project put forth by one of the other influentials. He was described as being aga inst everything he was "not totally for." All of the other influentials felt that PW presented the most difficult obstacle for them to overcome since he has so much impact in so many areas in the county office. He was seen as the superintendent's hatchet man and enjoyed that role to a great extent.

The executive director of the education association (SR) was seen as the second most likely person to oppose proposals. The three persons who perceived him in this way were the superintendent and the two school board members. Many people interviewed felt SR would disagree with something publicly in order,-to-give.the unIon










some notice and newspaper space. They also felt he did not compare favorably with the former director who is now the mayor of the city and was always attempting to get as much attention as possible in order to appear to have the same impact as his predecessor.

The superintendent was seen as one of the most likely persons to oppose projects if he did not feel they were extremely likely to achieve passage by the school board. He was described as "politically savvy" and used some board members as a sounding board prior to approaching the board as a whole with a given proposal. Some of those persons interviewed felt the superintendent would occasionally present an item to the board that he knew would be rejected in order toilet the board feel they had ultimate control of the total school situation. Everyone interviewed agreed, however, that no proposal would reach the board if he did not agree with it. He had total control of that aspect and few employees would attempt to make contact with the board in direct opposition to his wishes.

The school board was also perceived as an important opponent of some proposals. Most influential felt that most projects the superintendent presented were very likely to pass with board approval. The board was described as very unpredictable in its voting on specific items. In fact, the influential indicated that no three board members would ever be on the same side of several different issues and some would change their minds on a given issue if it was presented at two different times. In one meeting observed during the course of this investigation, one board member cast the deciding vote for an issue atthe beginning of the meeting, then asked that the










question be called again at the end of the meeting and case the deciding vote against the same issue. The board appeared to give much consideration to the feelings of the constituency and gave those persons attending board meetings much opportunity to be heard. Both applause and cat calls were usual responses to emotional issues during these meetings.


Identification of Decisions and Issues

The identification of important decisions and issues was of extreme importance to this study because it provided the framework within which certain influential acted and exerted influence upon the final resolution of that particular problem. The selected informants identified 38 issues, problems, or decisions confronting the county schools within the past three years or were anticipated as being problems in the near future. Of these, 14 were indicated by three or more persons as having some impact on the system or subpart of the system (see Table 16).

The funding and requirements for implementing Public Law 94-142, Education of the Handicapped, was mentioned by 23 persons,-or 40 percent of the total interviewed. The closing of schools and the resultant impact on the community, especially the black community where most of the proposed schools to be closed were located, was the second most often indicated problem with 24 percent of the persons polled mentioning it. Salaries, both for instructional and non-instructional personnel, Was mentioned as the third area of concern by 17 percent of those persons questioned. Compensatory educational programming and back-to-basics was indicated by 15 percent of those polled as











Table 16

Significant Issues, Problems, or Decisions Identified by Sel ected Informants


Number of Percentage of
Issues, Problems, or Decisions Times Total
Nominated Respondents

Public Law 94-142 Funding and Implementation 23 40

Closing of Schools 14 24

Salaries 10 17

Compensatory Education Programming 9 15

Smoking Ban on High School Campuses 6 10

Attendance Policy 6 10

Restructuring Curriculum 5 8

Assessment of.Students 4 7

Alternative Programs 3 5

Primary Education Program -PREP 3 5

Summer School - Year-Long Schooling .3 5

Budgets 3 5

Retesting Students in Plant City 3 5

Teacher Negotiations 3 5











being a concern. The smoking ban and the attendance policy, both issues considered by the school board during this investigation, were significant to 10 percent of those polled.

Restructuring the curriculum in order to provide more time for specific subjects was seen as the seventh most important concern, especially by the elementary principals. Eight of the 16 elementary principals interviewed indicated this was of prime importance especially wit h the coming implementation of the Primary Education Program which was indicated by 5 percent of the group as being an important issue.

Other concerns receiving at least three expressions of importance included: establishment of alternative programs, summer school and year-long schooling, budgets, and teacher negotiations. Each was mentioned by 5 percent of the population polled.

Several students from one of the smaller cities in the district were retested on an examination in a manner not strictly in accordance with policies established by the board. One of the.students was the son of a school board member and some attention was given to this situation at two board meetings and in the local newspapers. Three of the respondents felt this was an issue of importance at the time of the interviews.,

The other 24 issues mentioned were indicated by only one or two persons. Most of these issues were primarily significant to the specific job or area from which the person interviewed came or worked, e.g., air conditioning the schools, bilingual education, Affirmative Action, etc.




Full Text
27
A study (Tampa Tribune, 1980) was conducted with responses
requested from 502 parents, teachers, and students in the school
district. Responses were received by 261 parents, 130 students, and
111 teachers who were contacted by telephone and asked questions
concerning their perceptions of the quality of education. Special
portions of the educational program were addressed. Results
indicated:
1. Parents and teachers said they are willing to pay higher
taxes to improve the schools in the county.
2. The majority of all three groups felt the public school
education deserved a grade of B.
3. Most of the teachers said the present day education is better
than the one they received; nearly half of the parents felt their
children were receiving an inferior education in comparison to that
they received.
4. Sixty percent of the teachers and only 48 percent of the
parents stated that the schools were adequately encouraging parents
to become involved in their child's school.
5. More than half of the students felt that drugs and absenteeism
were problem issues. Less than half of the parents and teachers felt
they were major problems. Busing was not considered a significant
problem by a major portion of the respondents. Crime and vandalism
are not considered problem areas by any of the group majorities.
6. High marks were given the schools by all three groups to
programs in the areas of math, English, art/music, reading, discipline,
and student counseling. However, more parents and students gave C
grades than did the teachers.


3
Occasionally, studies have been directed primarily toward
examining relationships within school groups (Collins, 1979; Fleming,
1963; IarinacOrTne, 1959; Iannaconne & Lutz, 1970; McCluskey, 1973).
No published materials have been found that reflect the decision
making process within the administrative power structure of specific
district level staff other than the superintendent and his or her
power within that structure.
The Problem
Statement of the Problem
The problem in this study was to examine the staff perceptions of
the most influential persons in school decision making of a large
urban school district in Florida. Specific questions asked included:
1. Who were'prceived by school officials as the most influential
persons inschool decision making in the school organization and what
were their characteristics?
2. What formal and informal organizations impacted upon the
decision making process?
3. What major issues were being considered by the school district
and what major decisions were made concerning those issues during the
past three years in this school district?
Delimitations and Limitations
The scope of this study was limited in several ways. Since self-
reports Were the primary method of collecting data utilized in this
research, other information impinging upon certain decisions were not


76
If, however, there was considerable impact on another division
and there was a difference of opinion as to what the appropriate
decision should be, the Assistant Superintendent's Group made the
decision. That disagreement might flow on to the Superintendent's
Educational Management Group but few decisions were countermanded by
the superintendent or by the other groups that existed in the district
with the exception of the school board.
The influential saw the school board as being very powerful if
it chose to be. As mentioned earlier, most of the recommendations of
the superintendent that the board voted against were special interest
and largely non-curricular in nature, e.g., smoking areas, deciding
where the high school football game would be played, etc. Most of
the educational decisions were supported by the majority of the
school board most of the time.
The principals' groups were also seen as influential in the
decision making process. The senior high principals were viewed as
the most powerful both because they were few in number and there
was less disagreement among them. They also had much comtact with
community leaders and parents via the sports activities and cultural
events with which the elementary and junior high school principals
were not as much involved. These groups were seen as being much
more like-minded than were the area principals' groups.
Community groups had much impact on school board decisions if
they became actively involved in school board meetings. The closing
of schools was directly affected by minority groups' expressed
interest in their community schools. As a result of this emotional


131
Johns, R., & Kimbrough, R. The relationship of socioeconomic factors,
educational leadership patterns, and elements of community power
structure to local school fiscal policy (Project 2842).
Washington, DC: Department of Health, Education and Welfare,
Bureau of Research, 1968.
Kimbrough, R. Self-study of the power Structure-Technical appendices.
Unpublished manuscript, University of Florida, 1975.
Kimbrough, R., & Nunnery, M. Educational administration: An intro
duction. New York: Macmillan, 1976.
King, G. L. Decentralization and decision making: An analysis of
elementary school principals' and superintendents' perceptions
(Doctoral dissertation, Ohio University, 1979). Dissertation
Abstracts International, 1979, 40(5-A), 2390. (University
Microfilms No. 79-24420)
Longstreth, J. Knowing who's who in the power structure can pay
dividends. American School Board Journal, 1966, 153, 10-11.
Marsh, W. Characteristics of the power structures of six Florida
school districts selected on the basis of population, educational
effort, and elasticity of demand for education (Doctoral
dissertation, University of Florida, 1965). Dissertation
Abstracts International, 1966, 27(03-A), 632. (University
Microfilms No. 66-08841)
McCluskey, J. An investigation of the locus of formal decision making
for student personnel services in selected multi-unit community
college districts (Doctoral dissertation, University of Florida,
1972). Dissertation Abstracts International, 1973, 34(01-A), 96.
(University Microfilms No. DCJ73-15519)
Melton, D. H. Informal organization and decision making in a community
college (Doctoral dissertation, University of Florida, 1972).
Dissertation Abstracts International, 1973, 34(01-A), 97.
(University Microfilms No. DCJ73-15523)
Mendoza, C. J. The relationship of role and decision making inter
actions occurring between school superintendent and subordinate
(Doctoral dissertation, Georgia State University, 1978).
Dissertation Abstracts International, 1978, 39(4-A), 1966.
(University Microfilms No. 78-17579)
Nunnery, M., & Kimbrough, R. Politics, power, polls, and school
elections. Berkeley, CA: McCutchan, 1971.
O'Hara, L. F. A case study of curriculum decision making in a community
college (Doctoral dissertation, University of California, 1977).
Dissertation Abstracts International, 1978, 38(10-A), 5871.
(University Microfilms No. 78-02602)


79
Table 14
Major Affiliations of Influential
Influential Position
Affiliations
RS
Superintendent of Schools
Parent-Teacher Organizations
Hospital Board, Chamber of
Commerce; United Fund
Director; Boy Scouts; Nation
al Football Hall of Fame;
Golf Club
FF
Assistant Supt., Instruction
Major's Art Council;
Methodist
PW
Assistant Supt., Adminis.
Kiwanis; Kentucky Colonels
WH
Assistant Supt., Business
Business groups
JL
Gen. Dir., Ex. Students
Crewe of Knights of Sant Y
Ago; Catholic School Board;
McDonald Training Center;
Lighhouse for the Blind;
Mental Health Advisory Board
Bay Community College
Citizens' Investigation
Committee
SR
Exec. Dir.', Educ. Assoc.
Democratic Party (local)
MR
Chairperson, School Board
Gov. Council on Criminal
Justice; Commission on Crime
Advocacy; Committee for
Criminal Justice; Tampa
Marine Institute; Methodist
LW
Gen. Dir., Elem. Ed.
Chamber of Commerce; Shrine;
Masons; Bay County Posse
BH
Member, School Board
Kiwanis; Boy Scouts, Little
League
RS
Asst. Supt., Voc. Ed.
Methodist Church
RC
Asst. Supt., Personnel
United Fund; Salvation Army;
Little League


87
Exceptional Students appeared to be quite close professionally to
all of the assistant superintendents except PW who expressed
negative feelings about the General Director of Exceptional
Students (JL) in other discussions. The General Director for
Elementary Education (LW) did not appear to have the same contacts
with the assistant superintendents as did JL.
Table 15 indicates those persons perceived as helpful in having
a project approved. The superintendent surpasses all other
influentials as being seen as supportive of projects. Most respondents
felt that, by the time a proposal reached his desk, it would have
received approval through the assistant superintendent's level and
that the superintendent usually supported his assistant superintendents.
If, however, a great deal of negative community or school board
reaction was felt, the influential saw the superintendent as backing
down and either withdrawing the proposal or having it rewritten or
reworked in order to remove the offending segments. The superintendent
saw himself as a professional friend and supporter of all of the
influentials with the exception of the executive director of the
education association.
The Assistant Superintendent for Administration was seen as the
second-most likely person to support a project or proposal. However,
he was also seen as the most likely person to oppose a project. He
was supportive only if he totally agreed with the thrust of the
proposal and was non-supportive otherwise.
The Assistant Superintendent for Business was seen as the third
most likely person to support action by other influential. The


19
Those individuals mentioned most often were interviewed in order to
ascertain their part as well as their perceptions of the actions of
others in decisions. Data collected were substantiated by examination
of public records and other documentary evidence relating to those
particular decisions. A distinction was made between the initiation
and implementation phases of decision making for the initiator was
seen as wielding more power than the implementer.
Presthus (1964) combined elements of both the reputational and
decision making techniques and observed that the reputational technique
tended to identify those persons who operated "behind the scenes" while
the decision making method tended to identify the more overtly active
persons involved in the decision making process. There was, however,
sizeable overlap in lists produced by both methods. Presthus felt that
the two methods "were better conceived as mutually supportive means of
ascertaining power" (1964, p. 59) and would provide useful checks
against the inadequacies of each other.
The combining of both reputational and decision making elements has
been utilized by a number of investigators (Gourley, 1963; Kimbrough,
1975; Shaffer, 1967; Wellman, 1964). They contend the combination of
methods was the most effective procedure for providing insight into
the power structure of communities or organizations.
The University of Florida approach (Kimbrough, 1975) follows
some principles of both the decision analysis and reputational techniques
but also differs in some respects. This technique initially identifies
the most important interest sectors of the community which may vary
according to community background, e.g., economic, political.


84
There were 18 choices made by the 13 influentials. Only one
of these was a mutual choice. The other 17 choices were unilateral
choices. One of the leaders, the Assistant Superintendent for
Administration, refused to name any friends within the organization
and the superintendent selected only professional friends.
The mutual choice made the Assistant Superintendent for
Instruction and the secondary principal (FF and LF) dated back,
according to the influentials themselves, over many years. They
had both been principals together and LF worked under FF's direction
as his General Director of Secondary Education for several years.
Although neither indicated their families had any major interaction,
they had attended meetings together and had remained close personal
friends. Both indicated a close working relationship with the other
and felt they had the same orientation to education.
Figure 2 indicates the choices made for all influentials by
each of the other influentials. As indicated above, only one mutual
choice was made. The Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and
the Assistant Superintendent for Administration received the most
nominations with four each. The Assistant Superintendent for Business,
the General Director for Exceptional Students, and the secondary
principal received three choices each. The executive director of the
education association was selected once. None of the other six
influentials was chosen by any other influential.
The Assistant Superintendent for Personnel chose the largest
number of friends. Since his department crosses all department
boundaries, he knows many people in the other divisions. He is also


6
the system. The knowledge of how a system operates and what measures
an administrator can utilize in order to influence that system gives
a person great power in making decisions that positively affect the
educational lives of students.
By observing and involving himself in the formal and informal
organizations that exist within all bureaucracies, the administrator
can develop methods of enhancing working conditions for all employees
and increase the effectiveness of the organization. Such involvements
will have positive impact upon the educational process and students
should profit.
Organization of the Study
Chapter I is an introduction to the study. The purpose has been
described as have the statement of the problem, delimitations, and
limitations of the study. Definitions of the terms used in this
research have been included.
Chapter II contains a review of the literature that has direct
impact upon this research. Reviews of selected studies of decision
making as well as descriptions of methodology for studies of decision
making and discernment of power are included.
Chapter III describes the setting, both community and educational
It specifies geography, population, economic life, and overall school
district organization.
Chapter IV provides a description of the procedures used in com
pleting this research. Data analysis procedures are delineated.


30
District Office
A new multi-million dollar district office building was completed
during the 1978-79 school year through combining local and federal
monies. It was officially dedicated in July, 1979. This construc
tion enabled the top levels of the school hierarchy to be grouped
at one site rather than spread about the district. The Superintendent's
Office was officially moved from the County Courthouse and is located
on the first floor of the new building. All assistant superintendents'
offices are located on the second and third floors of the building.
Administrative Organization of the District
The school district may be best described as a unified city-county
school system (Andes et al., 1971). It is a highly centralized
bureaucracy governed by an elected school board and appointed super
intendent. A school board publication outlines the respective job
responsibilities (Hillsborough County School Board, 1978).
School board. The district school board is composed of seven
board members who ..are. elected to fof~yer terms by registered voters.
Five board members are elected from geographic areas and must reside
in that area in order to run for office. Two additional board members
are elected as county-at-large members. All seven board members are
elected by a county wide ballot. The school board is considered a
policy making group for the school system. They can take no formal
action as individuals and must act within the requirements of state
law and regulation (Chapter 230, Florida Statutes). The school board
meets every other Tuesday. One session is considered a work session
and the other a regular meeting. Special meetings are called at
the recommendation of the superintendent.


114
3. What major decisions were made during the past three
years or what major issues were being presented to the district?
A combination of two research procedures was used. Attributed
influence was measured by use of the reputational technique and the
decision analysis technique was used to examine the actual influence
in the district in the solution of three given decisions.
The acquisition of data in the district school system was
initiated by the identification of selected informants. These
informants were individuals who worked in the administrative offices,
principals, and school board members. They were asked to nominate
influential persons in the schools and on the school board as well as
to identify important formal and informal organizations and issues
in the district.
The Influential
Influential were identified and were then interviewed. Data
were collected regarding their perceptions of other influential s'
roles, involvement in the decision making process, and influence in
issue resolution. These data were analyzed in order to determine a
rank order of influence within the district of named influential
as well as to identify decisions or issues of importance within the
district. Various interrelationships among the decision makers were
explored by asking the influential to name close friends, project
supporters and non-supporters, and to list the organizations in which
they held memberships. Education, political, and other ties were
also examined. Personal data were collected on each influential in
terms of one's education, role, residence, and family structure in


46
Thirty-four members were originally appointed: all the
assistant superintendents, all general directors, all area
directors, two directors, two supervisors, four elementary
principals, two junior high principals, two senior high principals,
two assistant principals, one community school administrator, and
two deans. The Assistant Superintendent for Administration was
originally designated by the superintendent as chairman of this
group although this was changed after the first evaluation in May,
1978, and the superintendent now presides.
Major areas of discussion include items on the agenda of the
school board, significant items of concern, and items of general
interest. Consensus is usually obtained on major items although
formal voting does not occur. Minutes are kept of all meetings.
At its inception, a survey was conducted concerning those issues
this organization should investigate indepth. Interestingly, the
PL'94-142 issue in 1977, before actual implementation was begun, was
listed as the 39th concern by SMEG. After the problems of implementa
tion were felt, it became the most significant for many persons.
Closing of schools was listed in eighth position and the smoking
issue, not reactivated at the time of the poll, was not indicated
among the top 43 concerns. After this group met for one year, an
evaluation was conducted and weaknesses were identified and possible
improvements recommended.
Division directors' meetings. Each assistant superintendent is
responsible for having meetings with general directors and directors
at least monthly. Such meetings occur differently for different


CHAPTER V
RESULTS
In this chapter, the results and findings are presented in
accordance with the procedures as outlined in Chapter IV. A
combination of adaptations of the reputational and decision analysis
techniques was used in completing this study. The reputational method
was used to identify decision makers and to assess their influence
with other influential as well as with other persons involved in
the decision making process. The decision analysis method was used
to investigate decisions or issues that were perceived to be important
to the school community and the role of the identified influential
in reaching resolution of the identified problems.
Identification of Influential
The selected informants were asked to identify those persons
they considered to be influential in the decision making process
within the school system and with the specific issues addressed.
Twenty-nine persons were nominated as being influential in the
school district. Of these 29, 13 were mentioned by three or more
persons as being particularly influential in decision making, both as
an individual and as a member of a group (Table 6).
59


64
Table 8
Weighted Column Placement of County Influential
Interview Guide B
Influential
Position
Weighted
Score
Rank
RS
Superintendent
100.00
1
PW
Asst. Supt., Administration
90.47
2
WH
Asst. Supt., Business
71.42
3.5
FF
Asst. Supt., Instruction
71.42
3.5
BH
School Board Member
66.66
5
MR
Chairperson, School Board
58.33
6
SR
Exec. Director, Educ. Assoc.
57.14
7
LW
Gen. Director, Elementary Ed.
52.00
8
JL
Gen. Director, Excep. Students
47.61
9
RC
Asst. Supt., Personnel
41.66
10
LF
Principal, High School
36.90
11
RS
Asst. Supt., Vocational-Technical
34.52
12.5
HC
Asst. Supt., Support Services
34.52
12.5


119
The only person uniformly seen as likely to oppose projects
was the Assistant Superintendent for Administration. He was
also seen as the most likely to support projects if he agreed
with them but his support or lack of it was not always seen as
predictable. The superintendent was viewed as the person most
likely to support projects by most of the influentials.
Formal and Informal Organizations
Fourteen organizations were mentioned by three or more persons
as having influence in educational decisions in the district. The
two most significant groups were the Assistant Superintendent's
Group and the Division Meetings. The Superintendent's Educational
Management Group was also seen as important. Whether members were
selected to serve on that group because they were influential or
whether the organization aids in the development of individual
influence was not known. Both are probably true statements.
Although most of these groups listed by the first group inter
viewed were identified by the influentials as having some influence,
the most startling difference was in the perceived influence of the
Assistant Superintendent's Group which was indicated as being the most
influential group by the influentials themselves and eighth by
the original interviewees. The education association was perceived
as the most influential group by the initial interviewees and in the
lower half of influence by the influentials. As with the director
of the association, the influentials may not wish to recognize that
the organization wields as much influence as it actually does or
those original interviewees may have had more direct contact with


88
power of finance was obviously recognized by all of the other
influential and they indicated they contacted this division early
in the planning stages of a new project to see if support was
forthcoming.
Table 15
Influential Perceived to be Supportive or
Non-Supportive to Projects Proposed by Other Influential
Influential
Perceived As
Supportive
Perceived As
Non-Supportive
RS, Superintendent
8
2
FF, Asst. Supt., Instruction
4
1
WH, Asst. Supt., Business
3
0
JL, General Director, ESE
1
0
PW, Asst. Supt., Administration
5
6
LW, General Director, Elem. Ed.
0
1
MR, School Board Chairperson
2
2
SR, Executive Director, Ed. Assoc.
0
3
BH, School Board Member
2
2
RS, Asst. Supt., Vocational
0
0
RC, Asst. Supt., Personnel
2
1
HC, Asst. Supt., Support Services
2
0
LF, Secondary Principal
1
0


23
of 288,878 is projected at 319,200 by 1985, a decrease from 44
percent of the total population to 42.5 percent, an indication
of the movement to the county (Chamber of Commerce, 1979).
The age distribution of the population in the county and the
county seat do not differ appreciably (see Table 1). The median
age in the county seat is 30.8 years and in the county 28.5 years
(Chamber of Commerce, 1979). Seventeen and 15 percent of the
existing population are60 and over in the county seat and the county,
respectively. There is an indication that a larger percentage of
the school-age population is moving to the more suburban and rural
portions of the county, thus exerting pressure to fund more building
construction in those areas and to find more uses for the unused^
facilities in the inner city.
Table 1
Age Distribution
Age Range
County Seat
Population Percent
County
Population Percent
0-19 years
95,924
35
181,409
37
20-39 years
68,872
25
128,326
26
40-59 years
65,022
24
108,092
22
60+ years
46,949
17
72,488
15
TOTAL
276,767
100
490,315
100
MEDIAN AGE
30.8 years
28.5 years


no
information on the student smoking policy since that was the one
that was of paramount concern. She was assured there was a group
working on it.
Involvement of groups and influentials. On May 15, 1979, the
issue again arose at the board meeting. A recommendation from the
Senior High Principal's Association was presented to the board.
They again requested reconsideration of a smoking area. The school
board dec!ined.
Principals in attendance were reminded by one board member that
the board had full expectation that all principals would work to
enforce the policy that had just been passed even though they had
actively worked against it and had testified before the board that
they wished the situation to remain the same. The principals in
attendance agreed.
The investigator was informed that this item was placed quite
late on the agenda in hopes there would not be prolonged discussion
and final disapproval of the smoking areas. This strategy failed.
An editorial comment was made on one of the major television stations
in the area on June 5 asking that the board reverse itself on the
smoking ban. Because of the very negative press, the chairperson of
the school board wrote a letter to the newspaper in which a negative
editorial appeared. She expressed her views regarding smoking and
its effects.
On June 19, the Assistant Superintendent for Administration, after
meeting both with the Senior High Principal's Association as well as
the Superintendent's Education Management Group who uniformly reacted


STAFF PERCEPTIONS OF THE INFLUENTIALS, ISSUES,
AND THE DECISION MAKING PROCESS IN A SCHOOL SYSTEM IN FLORIDA
BY
JEAN K. DOUGLASS
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF EDUCATION
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
1981


55
series of interviews. Questions were phrased about decision making
within the total district in order to encourage respondents to
discuss in great detail their perception of both the formal and
informal decision making process in the school district. Data
collected from the responses to these questions were exceedingly
helpful in the later interpretation of roles and relationships that
existed within the organization.
Three decisions were selected from those that were mentioned by
persons interviewed as being most significant. Two were selected
because they were ranked by those persons interviewed initially as the
two most important or significant decisions. The third issue was
selected because it was an issue that was currently being considered
by the school board and the investigator was able to observe some of
the involvement of the influential in reaching resolution. The
three decisions were (a) the funding and resultant requirements of
federal funding for the handicapped, (b) the closing of schools in
the district, and (c) the decision to ban smoking by students on high
school campuses. For each of the decisions made or being made, each
influential was asked to determine the position he/she took, contacts
made, and the manner in which the decision was finally resolved.
Opportunity was given to each person to comment freely on the issues
or on related issues. Documentary evidence as well as observation
of the activities of some of the formal groups was used in studying
the individual decisions.


57
The second factor used for assessing total influence was
district/statewide influence ranking. A district/state influence
score was derived by dividing the number of times an influential
was recognized as having district and/or state influence by the
total number of interviews of influential and then multiplying by
100 to calculate a simple proportion.
The third factor utilized was the total number of times an
influential was mentioned as being influential in the initial inter
views. This total was divided by the total number of interviews and
then multiplied by 100 for a simple proportion.
Other information was collected concerning each identified leader
in the district. Specific questions concerning friendships, organiza
tions to which each person belonged, persons whom the influential
could count on for support or opposition for projects, educational
background and experience were included.
Decisions or Issues Identified as Significant
Three decisions were studied in depth during this investigation.
Decisions were selected because of their being mentioned most often
by the initial interview sample. Data collected both in the initial
and follow-up interviews were utilized as were secondary sources of
information such as minutes of school board meetings, discussions
with persons who were in attendance at specific meetings, newspaper
accounts of specific actions as well as documents shared by the
different divisions with specific groups within the organization.
The events that led to and related with the decision were presented
in both narrative and chronological order. Chapter V contains a


63
An examination of the data in Table 8 reveals that scores range
from a high of 100.00 to a low of 34.52. The Assistant Superintendent
for Administration was the only person who rivaled the superintendent
who had a perfect weighted score of 100.00. The Assistant Superinten
dent had nine exceptionally strong district wide and two strong
district wide influence votes for his total of 90.47.
Only three of the six assistant superintendents, but both the
school board members, are in the upper half of the listing. Both of
the general directors, on the third level on the administrative chart,
are found in the lower half of the table but are ranked higher than
the three assistant superintendents. The executive director of the
county education association was ranked seventh with a score of
57.14, higher than the general directors and three of the assistant
superintendents.
District/statewide influence ranking. Each influential was asked
to name those influentials whom he or she believed had district wide
or statewide influence in educational matters. A district/state
influence score was derived by dividing the number of times an
influential was recognized as having district or state influence by
the total number of interviews. A simple proportion was then
calculated by multiplying this score by 100, Among the influentials
interviewed, the highest score was 91, given to the superintendent.
The lowest scores were awarded to the Assistant Superintendent for
Support Services and the Assistant Superintendent for Administration
with an 8.33 and the school board member and the principal of the
high school with zero (Table 9).


75
was significantly important in decision making. The district school
board was third in the number of votes it received with 24, or 42
percent of the total persons interviewed. Elementary principals
and the Citizens' Advisory Committee both received 21 votes, or 37
percent of the total. The Superintendent's Educational Management
Group was indicated as being influential in decision making by 16
persons, or by 28 percent of the total group interviewed. The PTA
County Council, of which the chairperson of the school board was
chairperson prior to being elected to the school board, received 12
votes, or 27 percent of the total. Assistant superintendents and
junior high principals both received nine votes, or 16 percent of the
total. Both the Urban League and the NAACP were indicated by six
persons as being important groups impinging upon the decision making
process. The remaining organizations were nominated fewer than five
times.
The influential viewed the formal organizations impacting upon
decision making in the school district differently. They felt that
the Assistant Superintendents Group was the most important organiza
tion followed by the Division Meetings headed by the assistant super
intendents. The Divisional Meetings were, according to the influential,
extremely important to the entire decision making process because,
unless a decision made a great deal of impact upon another division,
those persons within that particular division made the decision. The
Assistant Superintendent's Group then acted merely as a sounding board
for the solution and passed it on to the Superintendent's Educational
Management Group as a positive measure.


CHAPTER IV
PROCEDURES ..... 50
Introduction 50
Overview 50
Sample 51
The Interview Sample 51
Interviews With the Selected Informants ........ 51
Instrumentation . 52
Interview Guide A 53
Interview Guide B 53
Initial Interviews 53
Follow-Up Interviews 54
Data Analysis 56
Persons Identified as Influential 56
Decisions or Issues Identified as Significant 57
CHAPTER V
RESULTS 59
Identification of Influential 59
Rankings of the Leaders 61
General Characteristics of the Influential 70
Age 70
Sex 70
Residence 71
Years of Education 71
Degrees Held 71
Marital Status/Number of Children 72
Identification of Formal Organizations and Informal
Relationships 73
Formal Organizations 73
Membership in Professional Organizations 78
Membership in Civic and Other Organizations 78
Informal Relationships and Friendships 82
Identification of Decisions and Issues . 91
PL 94-142Education for the Handicapped 94
School Closings 100
Smoking Areas for High School Students 108
CHAPTER VI
SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS 113
Summary 113
The Influential s 114
Formal and Informal Organizations 119
Decisions and Issues .... ....... 121
iv


106
On June 19, 1979, the Assistant Superintendent for Administra
tion wrote the superintendent and requested that a new approach be
used with community groups in order to develop support for the
recommendations that would be made to the board. He suggested
that the Bi-Racial Committee, the Citizen's Advisory Committee,
the county Council PTA, Friends of Public Schools, Urban League,
NAACP, and the Chamber of Commerce Education Committee each name two
persons from their groups to work on a committee "in presenting
recommendations to the board in regard to boundary changes, school
closings, building utilization, etc. With this group of people,
the Director of Pupil Administrative Services, the four general
area directors; four elementary principals, one junior high
principal, and one senior high principal are available to work
with the committee to give them input and factual information they
need when considering school facility utilization. This committee
should serve in an advisory capacity to review and work with the
school administration in making recommendation to the board for
consideration with reference to use of school facilities." The
superintendent recommended this action to the board which they
approved. A letter inviting participation was sent to each of the
interested organizations.
The Assistant Superintendent for Support Services, the only black
at this level, indicated that he did not agree with the original
recommendation and let his feelings be known in the Assistant Super
intendent's Group. He felt the recommendations had not been thought
out carefully enough and that some schools with worse problems were


125
The superintendent primarily acted as chief school board
contact. He placed great faith in the recommendations of his
assistant superintendents and saw the necessity of clear communica
tion between and among divisions. The Superintendent's Educational
Management Group was formed in an effort to improve communication
and was viewed by respondents as having achieved that purpose.
Formal groups were very important in this bureaucracy. Major
decision making within the organization occured here, especially
in the upper echelons of the organization.
A study of three selected decisions revealed that the process
of decision making and the number of influential involved varied
according to the decision under consideration. Issues were initiated
by many different groups in the community, school board members them
selves, and from within the organization itself. Most recommendations
by the superintendent to the school board were acted upon favorably.
Very little opposition to projects impacting upon one of the
divisions was apparent in the other divisions unless there was some
infringement upon "their turf." Once a decision was made at the
division level, the superintendent supported that decision unless it
received active negative reaction from within the organization.
School board and community support was not that automatic.
The involvement of the community groups and individual persons
in decisions was seen as a viable way of dealing with controversial
actions of the school board. The research of Andes et al. (1971),
O'Hara (1978), Perry (1979), and Zoglin (1980) support this finding.


118
exerted as much real influence as it actually did and their percep
tion may be skewed to some degree. The director's major impact
appeared to be with the school board with whom he had many informal
contacts. The organization's support of all but one of the current
school board members in their political campaigns had aided in the
good feelings they held for him. Most of the influential did
feel, however, that his predecessor would have been ranked much
higher in influence than he was.
The other significant difference in ranking was for the
Assistant Superintendent for Administration. He was seen as second
in importance to the superintendent by the first group interviewed
and as fifth in influence by the influential themselves. His
original ranking was greatly influenced by the number of principals
who ranked him very high in influence. Since he was primarily
responsible for their professional evaluations, he did exert great
influence over their professional lives. He was also one of the
most visible assistant superintendents in the district. He made the
majority of recommendations at school board meetings and his area
received a great deal of public notice because the recommendations
were usually the most controversial, e.g., school closings, smoking
ban, teacher evaluations, attendance policy, and code of conduct.
The other assistant superintendents, especially those who have served
for many years, viewed themselves and were seen by other influentials
as wielding their share of influence in the district schools; and were
not unnecessarily influenced by the Assistant Superintendent for
Administration.


72
doctoral degree, the superintendent and the General Director of
Exceptional Students. One other person, the General Director for
Elementary Education, is completing his doctorate with Nova University
this year. None of the assistant superintendents have a degree higher
than a master's. Both school board members hold a bachelor's degree;
the chairperson in speech therapy and the other member has a degree
in business.
When asked why the dearth of doctorates at the assistant super
intendent level, the answer uniformly given was that a doctorate
would make no real difference. All of the persons holding those
positions were where they wished to be and none wished to move to
another position that would necessitate a higher degree. It was
indicated that each of these persons was seen as retiring from those
positions currently held and that they were competently carrying out
the duties and responsibilities of those jobs. Those persons who did
have doctorates or who were aspiring to complete advanced degrees were
seen as either contemplating a move from the district and the degree
would give more bargaining power or being considered as a possible
assistant superintendent when persons currently holding those positions
might retire. The superintendent was employed by the district school
board and one of the criteria applicants for that office had to meet
was to hold a doctorate.
Marital Status/Number of Children
All of the influential were married at the time of the interviews.
All had at least one child who either did or does attend public schools.
One, the principal of the high school, had six children; the


108
Smoking Areas for High School Students
Background. The county dealt with this problem 10 years ago
when the chairperson of the district school board was President of
the District Parent-Teachers Association. She spearheaded a
recommendation from the district PTA group to the district school
board to prohibit the establishment of smoking areas for students
at the high schools. She explained that although she does smoke,
she feels that providing a place for student smoking gives tacit
approval of the school to participate in a habit that is hazardous
to a person's health. The members of the PTA went back to their
local groups and asked them to support the issue as well. These
combined groups exerted enough pressure so that the school board
voted to prohibit such areas.
One year later, the issue was again brought before the school
board. At this time, the board was informed of the inability of the
school administration to control smoking in bathrooms and other
enclosed areas where a fire hazard was a real possibility. The
school board reconsidered their action of the year before and
permitted smoking areas to be reestablished.
In January, 1979, an assistant principal for curriculum
announced his planned retirement after 30 years of teaching and
administrative experience in the county and asked to be heard by
the school board on several issues. He also submitted a memorandum
he had written concerning these same issues. First on his list was
an appeal to the board to again rescind permission to smoke and to
repeal Policy No. C-70. He felt too much time was required of local


124
superintendents where he might get the "run-around." Both
administrative personnel and teacher association personnel
reported movement toward an adversarial position since the 1968
teacher walkout and the subsequent legalization of collective bar
gaining.
The school board had a great deal of collective influence and,
when the majority of the board agreed on the solution to a problem,
the administration's stand seemed to make little difference. There
seldom was unanimous board support for one side of a controversial
issue and the alignment of board members on these issues was
unpredictable and appeared to depend totally upon the issue at
hand.
School board members reported they gave the superintendent
must independent authority. Members of the educational association
felt, on the other hand, that the superintendent had far too much
authority. These observations were similar to those found by
Thouvenot (1979).
Most divisions were relatively self-contained and personnel in
each made the major decisions impacting on their programs. The
degree of individual influence within the divisions themselves
differed substantially with some assistant superintendents who are
extremely democratic and some who are exceedingly autocratic.
Staff within the district office felt they had varying degrees of
authority within their own divisions. This appeared to depend
primarily upon the authoritarian nature of the assistant superintendent
of that particular division, a finding consistent with that of
Mendoza (1978).


CHAPTER III
SETTING
This chapter describes the administrative organization of an
urban school district in Florida. The county is described in terms
of the population, area economic life, city and county government,
and structure of the district school system.
The Community and District
Area
This county serves a geographic area of 1,037.8 square miles
of land and 24.2 square miles of inland water area, fifth in total
area of all districts in Florida. The corporate limits of the county
seat cover 84.4 square miles (Chamber of Commerce, 1979).
Population
The population of this county is currently estimated at 652 ,000
by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University
of Florida (Chamber of Commerce, 1979). Projections indicate that
from 1978 to 1985, this county will have over a 15 percent increase
in population. The county has grown by 161,735 people each year from
1972 to 1980, or a 4.1 percent increase. Estimates predict a popula
tion of 750,000 by 1985. The county seat with a current population
22


80
Table 14Continued
Influential
Position
Affiliations
HC
Asst. Supt., Support
Family Y; Sheriff's Advisory
Committee; Methodist
LF
Secondary Principal
Florida Sport Aviation;
Rotary; Chamber of Commerce
(in three cities)
towns in the district made up the second-most often mentioned organiza
tion of which these leaders were members. United Fund, Kiwanis, and
Boy Scouts were mentioned next. These were the only organizations
that had influential members in common. All of the other organiza
tions to which the leaders belonged seemed to be indicative of their
special interests, both recreational and civic.
Clubs and organizations did appear to be important sources of
influence for the identified leaders in this district. The church
affiliation was common for a number of these persons and, in a
relatively conservative area, probably did have impact on their
overall influence in the community. Membership in the Chamber of
Commerce seemed to be a significant asset for several of the
influential as did Kiwanis and Boy Scouts.
The superintendent belonged to the most organizations and held
the most offices in those groups. The organizations of which he was


34
whatever information may be requested from any public or private
source. He/she is probably best seen and described by other
members of the school district as a "talented back-up person who
has all the right answers at the right time" and can organize
information in order for all groups to understand and have confidence
in what is occurring within the school system.
Assistant superintendents. The superintendent of the county has
six assistant superintendents who work directly under his/her
administrative control in the areas of business and research,
personnel, supportive services, administration and operations,
instruction and vocational-technical and adult education. Job
descriptions are published for each of the division heads as well
as for those persons who hold administrative, supervisory or instruc
tional roles under their immediate administrative direction. All
have their offices in the District Office Building and employ vastly
different numbers of personnel (Table 3). Salaries for assistant
superintendent are approximately 17 percent higher than those for
general or general area directors.
All assistant superintendent positions are currently held by men
who have master's degrees and have served for more than 20 years in
some capacity in the school system. The average years in education
for the six persons are 29.6 with the Assistant Superintendent for
Vocational Education having the fewest--21 years. All had previous
experience in the school district prior to becoming an assistant
superintendent.


138
Sex: Male Female
Marital Status: Single Married Other
Number of Children:
Highest degree held:
Membership in Professional Organizations:
Membership/Offices held in State/Community/District Non-Educational
Organizations:
Organization Office(s) Dates
State
District
Community
Major Educational/Non-Educational Activities Involved in within the past
three years:
Dates Educational Non-Educational
Additional Comments:


99
Other informal meetings took place with the Assistant Superintendent
for Instruction and the Assistant Superintendents for Business and
Personnel.
The final proposal that was recommended to the superintendent
included five new staff for student services, 11 fewer than requested.
The board voted unanimously for the proposal at the July, 1979, school
board meeting. There were no questions asked by any board member at
that time.
The ESE Director has many opportunitied to meet with other
influential that are not available to other staff at his own level.
One of the school board members was trained as a speech therapist and
is very supportive of special education. Another is considered "the
best friend special education ever had." Both have frequent conversa
tions with the ESE Director, both personally and on the telephone.
He considers the secondary principal (LF) as a special friend. He
and the Assistant Superintendent for Instruction have been professional
friends of long duration. The Assistant Superintendent for Adminis
tration is the one person he feels can usually cause problems with
recommendations that involve both divisions. The Assistant Super
intendents for Business and Personnel are both very positive in their
reactions to the ESE director and, since their divisions are very
involved with special education, add to his ability to get things
accomplished for his department. All serve on the Superintendent's
Educational Management Group.


REFERENCES
Andes, J., Johns, R., & Kimbrough, R. Changes in organizational
structures of large school systems and special reference to
problems of teacher militancy and organizational conflict
(Project 8-0254, Grant 0EG-0^8-08-254-4461). Washington, DC:
Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Bureau of
Research, 1971.
Bartholomew, D. An analysis of change in the power system and
decision making process in a selected county (Doctoral
dissertation, University of Florida, 1971). Dissertation
Abstracts International, 1972, 32(11 A), 6024. (University
Microfilms No. 72-15656)
Bennis, W., Berkowitz, N., Affinito, M., & Malone, M. Authority,
power, and the ability to influence. Human Relations, 1958,
11, 143-155.
Chamber of Commerce. Facts about Hillsborough County. Tampa, FL:
Chamber of Commerce, 1979.
Chrystal, R. K. Identifying a superintendence team perspective.
Boston: Boston University Press, 1977.
Collins, T. J. The identification, roles and interrelationships of
influential in a selected rural county in Mississippi (Doctoral
dissertation, University of Southern Mississippi, 1979).
Dissertation Abstracts International, 1979, 40(4-A), 1769.
(University Microfilms No. 79-19689)
Craft, H. C. A study relative to the decision making process in a
selected parish in the state of Louisiana (Doctoral dissertation,
University of Southern Mississippi, 1977). Dissertation
Abstracts International, 1977, 38(05-A), 2444. (University
Microfilms No. DCJ77-22864)
Cross, R. A description of decision making patterns of school
principals. The Journal of Educational Research, 1980, 73,
154-159.
Dahl, R. Who governs? New Haven: Yale University Press, 1961.
129


135
It is believed that some persons are more influential than others
in district-wide school decisions. What persons do you consider
as having the most influence or leadership on decisions you have
mentioned regardless of whether you agree with them.
Name Comment
What groups do you consider to be important in influencing action
taken on decisions of the district. Who are members of these groups?
Group
Members


37
The Assistant Superintendent for Business and Research has
133 employees assigned to his office at the district level.
Ninety-one of these hold clerical or secretarial positions for a
total of 68 percent of the total work force in that division.
Eighteen administrative job descriptions in 21 offices found at only
three sites are described. This assistant superintendent is charged
with the responsibility of supervising the departments of finance,
data processing, school transportation, payroll, purchasing, and
central warehouse. He is also directly responsible for developing
recommendations for a viable research program as well as supporting
the management information system for the entire district. He is
charged to work with all other assistant superintendents in assisting
them to carry out their functions.
The Assistant Superintendent for Instruction has the largest
number of district staff assigned to his division. Of the 204 district
staff members, 112 are secretarial, clerical or custodial, for 55
percent of the total staff. Sixty-five administrative job descriptions
are included for this division, more than twice as many as any other
division except the vocational division. Nineteen major offices at
ten different sites are described and include athletics, educational
planning, media, central libraries and printing, textbooks, elementary
education, education for exceptional students, secondary education,
ROTC, staff development, and student services. Input to each school
in the district is provided by personnel in each of the areas described
above.


CHAPTER VI
SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS
The content of this final chapter will deal primarily with a
summary of principal findings and recommendations for further
research. General conclusions are also discussed.
Summary
The major purpose of this study was to investigate the decision
making process in an urban school district. A number of studies
delineating decision making as well as the power structure of school
districts, community colleges, and schools have been conducted in
the past. These studies as well as the present research attempted
to discover the interrelationships of influential, the existence
of formal and informal organizations, and their impact upon decisions
made within that organization.
The following major questions were addressed in this investiga
tion:
1. Who were the influential who participated in the decision
making in this urban county and what are their major characteristics?
2. What formal and informal organizations exerted an impact on
the decision making process in this school district?
113


48
Area meetings. Each area director is charged with the
responsibility of meeting with all principals in his/her area on
a regular basis. This person is given the responsibility of
acting as chief liaison between the school principals and the
District Office and is to share all pertinent information and
directives from the District Office that concern school administra
tion in that particular area's schools. Few major decisions seem
to be made by these groups and they are perceived by others as being
primary information dissemination vehicles. Principals indicated
they relied more on their peer groups rather than the area principals
when a significant issue is discussed.
Principals' meetings. All elementary, junior high, and high
school principals have regularly scheduled meetings with their peers.
This occurs at least monthly. The major purpose of these meetings
is to share information impacting upon the delivery of services to
any particular group of schools, to make recommendations on decisions
that may affect that group and to discuss issues of interest and
make recommendations to the District Office. A chairman is elected
from each body and remains in that office for a year. The chairman
represents the principal's group on the Superintendent's Educational
Management Group. At least one other member of that principal's
group also serves as a representative.
Recommendations from each group may be made directly to the
superintendent, to the Assistant Superintendent for Administration,
to the area directors, or to the school board. Each principal inter
viewed denied being restricted to a channel through the Assistant
Superintendent of Administration.


120
the association, e.g., grievances filed, teacher contacts, and
therefore feel more impact than the more insulated persons in
the district office.
Informal groups do exist and are important in the decision
making process in this district. They do not appear to exist outside
the professional organization itself with the exception of the
friendships of the two school board members with the Assistant
Superintendent of Administration and the director of the education
association.
Each of the other influentials, especially when officially
meeting together, had lunch or coffee with others in the group.
Usually those influentials with the longest service in the county
are found together. The most likely combinations were the established
group of experienced staff with one or two others whose particular
office might be involved in a current issue resolution situation.
The Assistant Superintendent for Administration was not seen as
friendly by most of the other school administrators. He was described
by several as "the resident SOB of the district" which the nature of
his position somewhat encouraged. He was both feared and respected
but not usually considered a friend.
There were no organizations outside the school group to which any
combination of the influentials belonged. Social relationships did
not seem to be important between or among the influentials in this
district although there did seem to be a past social relationship
between the superintendent and one of the assistant superintendents.


52
Table 5
Number and Percentage of Total Division Staff
Initially Interviewed
Division or Major Group Number
Interviewed
Percentage of
Total Staff
School Board
3
43
Division of Administration
9
21
Division of Business
5
10
Division of Instruction
9
10
Division of Personnel
4
7
Division of Support Services
3
10
Division of Vocational-Technical
4
10
Senior High Principals
2
18
Junior High Principals
4
16
Elementary Principals
16
18
TOtAL
59
15
Instrumentation
The major instruments used in this study were adaptations of
the Interview Guides developed by Kimbrough (1975). These were
used to elicit essential information concerning the power structure,
influential, and significant issues or decision made within the
district.


TOO
School Closings
Background. The Andrew N. Mannings et al. v. The Board of
Public Instruction was filed in the United States District Court
for the Middle District of Florida in December, 1958. On August 7,
1959, the case was dismissed by the District Judge. The District
Court of Appeals overturned the Circuit Court's decision in April,
1960, and the district schools were ordered desegregated. By
August, 1962, the suit was commenced and in October of that year
the district schools filed an integration plan that comprised the
combining of racial groups at the rate of one grade per year. On
May 8, 1963, this plan was approved with minor modifications. The
plaintiffs asked for further relief in December of 1968, and the
Court ordered the county to submit by April, 1969, a comprehensive
nondiscriminatory system for the public schools.
The county submitted a revised plan on May 23, 1969, which
listed boundaries. In July, further amendments were ordered by the
Court and on August 1, 1969, the final plan was approved by Judge
Lieb. In March, 1970, an evaluation of the implementation of the
approv-d plan indicated that 91 of the 124 schools were racially
identifiable so, on May 11, 1970, the Court of Appeals reversed Judge
Lieb's order and found the county schools deficient. At this time,
the Biracial Committee was established to oversee the implementation
of the Plan. In May, 1970, the court ordered the county to comply
with the order and on June 15, the county sent the Notice of
Compliance to the United States District Court of Appeals. In July
of that year, the submitted plan was approved by the Court.


86
"hedged his bets" and who wanted to avoid as much negative reaction
as possible. Since his programs are greatly affected by both the
Division of Instruction and the Division of Administration, it was
not surpising to see both of these choices.
PW's other three choices were made by the General Director of
Elementary Education and the two board members. LW was described
as a person who "was on his way up" and wanted to be where the power
was. He indicated that PW was the most powerful person in the district
office and, therefore, aligned himself with him. Another influential
described LW as the kind of person who would "step on his own child
to get to the top" but felt that his aligning himself with PW was not
a reciprocal relationship.
Although the Assistant Superintendent for Instruction (FF) was
described by many of his coworkers as being so democratic that
division business failed to get accomplished because the time was
spent allowing everyone affected to "have his say," he was also one
of the two most often chosen by the other influentials. Three of the
other assistant superintendents felt he was their personal friend.
Project friends. When questioned about professional friendships,
all school persons except the Assistant Superintendent for Administra
tion indicated a strong positive feeling for others on the influential
list. Especially strong ties seemed to exist between and among the
"old timers" with the exception of the Assistant Superintendent for
Administration (PW) who expressed strong feelings about the school
board members on the influential list. The school board members
indicated positive ties with PW as well. The General Director of


62
little district wide influence, and (e) little special area or
district wide influence. Each of the columns was assigned a
weighting in order to recognize respondents' inclination to attach
more importance or significance to the meaning of words denoting
the extremes, e.g., "exceptionally" and "little." These total scores
were calculated by adding the number of weighted points in each
column for each influential. These overall scores were then used
to place individuals in a hierarchy of influence (Table 7).
Table 7
Categories and Weights Assigned
Interview Guide B
Category
Weighting
Exceptionally strong district wide influence
7
Strong district wide influence
5
Strong special area and some district wide
influence
3
Some special area but little district wide
influence
1
Little special area or district wide influence
0
The raw score was computed by the number of points each indivi
dual was given in each of the five categories, multiplied by the
weighting, and then added together. The weighted column placement
was calculated by dividing the total raw score by the total possible
score and multiplying by 100. A perfect raw score would be 84 since
one of the influential refused to rank the other influentials in the
group.


61
A follow-up interview was designed to obtain personal data
about each individual as well as to measure the degree of influence
which the influentials attributed to each other, to organizational
memberships, and to influentials' participation in these activities
and involvement in major issues.
Administrative personnel within the school system as well as
school board members and the executive director of the county
educational association were nominated as influential. All adminis
trative divisions of the school bureaucracy were represented by their
assistant superintendents and only the Division of Instruction was
represented by more than one person. Two school board members were
indicated as being influential in decision making; one is the current
chairperson and the other filled that position last term and has the
longest tenure on the board. The executive director of the education
association was indicated as being influential, but only as a member
of the group he represented. His name was indicated only once apart
from the group itself.
Rankings of the Leaders
Weighted influence ranking. All of those persons nominated as
being influential by the first group of interviewees were asked to
rate both themselves as well as the other influentials as outlined
in Interview Guide B (Appendix B). Each influential was ranked
according to a five factor scale by every other influential and by
himself. The five factors were (a) exceptionally strong district
wide influence, (b) strong district wide influence, (c) strong
special area and some district wide influence, (d) some special but


70
There was, however, much greater divergence in perceived
influence for the Assistant Superintendent for Administration,
the general directors, and the Assistant Superintendent for
Business. See Table 12 for a comparison of final rankings for
Interview Guide A and Interview Guide B.
General Characteristics of the Influential
A brief description of data from interviews using Interview
Guide B is presented and includes data on age, children, education,
organizational memberships, and friendships. The above variables
may impact upon the influential rankins in an organization and thus
have importance to this study.
Age
The ages of the influential ranged from the middle thirties to
the middle sixties. One of the influential, the Executive Director
of the education association was in his middle thirties; five
individuals were in the 41-50 age grouping; and one was in the 61-70
grouping, the member of the school board who is planning retirement
at the end of the year.
Sex
Males predominated in the list of influential in this study.
Only one female was in the list of indicated influential and she
was primarily indicated as being influential because of her status
as chairperson of the district school board. Only two informants


31
District office staff. The size of the district school office
in this school district is so large that it is almost impossible for
any one person to have an indepth knowledge of all the processes
involved within the school system and thus to have much impact on
overall decisions made within the district. The communication between
groups within the district organization is hampered somewhat because
of its very magnitude and the specialization of personnel in each of
the divisions. This situation has been aided somewhat by the enhanced
physical closeness that was achieved by the move to the centrally
located building for the upper echelon of district staff during the
past year. The county also attempted to meet the communication needs
of its organization by the development of the Superintendent's
Educational Management Group in the Spring of 1977. This organiza
tion will be discussed in more detail in a latter portion of this
chapter.
Attorney and auditor. The district school board has employed both
an attorney and an internal auditor and assistant who report to them
directly and are not under the superintendent's administrative control.
The internal auditor and his assistant are charged with the responsi
bility of notifying the school board of any discrepancies that might
exist in the financial records of the district and attend all school
board meetings. The internal auditor's office is located within the
District Office Building on the first floor.
The attorney also attends all school board meetings and responds
to requests by members of the school board for legal opinions con
cerning certain deliberations or actions being considered by the
board.


9
inadequate communication networks, inadequately defined processes of
participation in school governance, and extremes in political issues.
In these studies, some individuals or groups were shown to have
access to the influential or to be heard but who had little real
participation in decision making. They did, however, through their
efforts, force some important modifications in the organizational
structure in most of the conflict analyzed by the research team.
Public groups were shown to have real power when they chose to use
it in a concerted manner.
The analysis of the data gathered also demonstrated the resistance
of the bureaucracies to change. The authors suggest the need to
develop organizations that are more flexible and responsive to the
community, parents, students, and influential. Effective participa
tion in the development of goals is of supreme importance in order to
reduce the intensity of goal conflict among the groups and individuals
involved in public education.
District school organizations have been studied. Peach (1979)
investigated the levels of participation of teachers, principals,
central office staff, superintendent, and school board in decision
making and the personal levels of satisfaction felt by each group.
He concluded that those persons who participated more in decision
making were more satisfied. He also found that the highest levels of
participation were found for the superintendent, central office, and
board, with principals and teachers last. Those staff persons with
the longest tenure were the most satisfied.
Diedrich (1978) studied the role preferences of selected Michigan
Board of Education members and superintendents. He found consensus


133
Trufant, J. E. Organizational decision making processes in a
metropolitan school district (Doctoral dissertation, University
of Florida, 1969). Dissertation Abstracts International, 1970,
31_(05-A), 2085. (University Microfilms No. 70-20617)
Ushijima, J. K. Influence and decision making patterns in local school
attendance areas (Doctoral dissertation, University of California,
1978). Dissertation Abstracts International, 1978, 39(1-A),
62. (University Microfilms No. 78-11390)
Verchota, J. W. A study of the power relationships found in selected
high schools with emphasis upon the power of the department
chairman (Doctoral dissertation, Northern Illinois University,
1970). Dissertation Abstracts International, 1971, 31(09-A),
4437. (University Microfilms No. 71-06383)
Webster's third international dictionary. Springfield, MA: G. & C.
Merriyn, 1964.
Weiner, W. H. Application of decision making theory to the analysis of
the outcomes of three educational decisions (Doctoral dissertation,
Boston College, 1979). Dissertation Abstracts International,
1979, 40(3-A), 1208. (University Microfilms No. 79-20486)
Wellman, F. Interrelationships and operational patterns of leaders in
the power structure of a selected county (Doctoral dissertation,
University of Florida, 1963). Dissertation Abstracts International.
1964, 25(01), 260. (Uni vers ity~Microfi 1ms No. 64-05633)
WFLA News. Ascertainment of concerns, Hillsborough County, April 12,
1979.
Whipple, H. E. A study of the role of board members and the super
intendent in agenda construction (Doctoral dissertation, Michigan
State University, 1978). Dissertation Abstracts International,
1979, 39(7-A), 3974. (University Microfilms No. 79-00761)
Wiles, D. K. Development of an instrument to assess perception of the
participative decision making process within the local school
center (Doctoral dissertation, University of Florida, 1969).
Dissertation Abstracts International, 1970, 31_(03-A), 993.
(University Microfilms No. 70-14927)
Zenke, L. L. A study of the organizational structure of a selected
urban deceltralized school system (Doctoral dissertation,
University of Florida, 1970). Dissertation Abstracts International,
1971, 31(11-A), 5743. (University Microfilms No. 71-13472)
Zoglin, M. L. Toward a theory of pluralistic curricular decision making
in comprehensive community colleges (Doctoral dissertation,
University of California, 1979). Dissertation Abstracts Inter-
national, 1980, 40(07-A), 3730. (University Microfilms No.
80-00588)


71
saw her as having influence as an individual rather than as an
officer of the school board.
Residence
Six of the influential were lifetime residents of the area.
All others have lived in the district for over 25 years with the
exception of the superintendent who has lived in the county for the
13 years he has been superintendent. The highest ranked long-time
resident was the Assistant Superintendent for Instruction. Eight of
the influential graduated from high school in the school district.
Years of Education
All of the influential who were employed by the school system
have worked in education for more than 14 years. The superintendent,
with a background in school finance, has served in a number of educa
tional positions for 30 years; the Assistant Superintendent for
Instruction has been in the educational program for 25 years; and the
Assistant Superintendent for Administration has been in the school
business for 40 years. The executive director of the education
association has been a teacher for 14 years. The two school board
members have served in their jobs as school board members for five
years (chairperson) and 20 years (member and past chairperson). The
present chairperson taught for one year immediately after her gradua
tion from college.
Degrees Held
All of the school employees named as influential in the county
hold at least a master's degree. Two of the persons have earned a


73
superintendent of schools had five; the school board member, four;
both general directors had three; six influential had two children
each, including five of the assistant superintendents; and two
decision makers had one child each.
Identification of Formal Organizations
and Informal Relationships
The relationships, both formal and informal, among the influen
tial in this school district organization, are examined and discussed
in this section. Using the interview data from Interview Guide B
(Appendix B), a number of relationships were identified. The formal
relationships included membership in professional and community
organizations as well as the identification of the important form
organizations themselves. The informal relationships included close
friendships, project friends, and project opponents.
Formal Organizations
The identification of important organizations in the county is
helpful to this study because it provides the context through which
decisions and persons are influenced in making decisions. A study of
the data obtained from Interview Guide A (Appendix A) indicates that
28 organizations were mentioned three or more times as having
influence in the decision making process (see Table 13).
The county teachers' association was indicated as influential
40 times, or 70 percent, of the total group interviewed. Senior high
principals were mentioned second most often as being influential and
28 persons, or 49 percent of the total interviewed, felt this group


Group
Members


CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION
Although some people and groups decry the existence of the
exercise of power or political influence in the educational system,
the results of research indicate that political pressure is present
in educational decision making. Politics is and has been inextricably
bound to education in the United States. Politics lies at the very
heart of policy making in public education and the exercise of power
is an inherent part of this total framework. Elected school board
members and, in some instances, elected superintendents establish
policy that is consistent with regulation and law established by
elected officials both at the state and federal levels. Examining
the school system and its social and political milieu in order to
ascertain how it can be influenced is, therefore, important in order
to support better educational programming for all citizens.
Nunnery and Kimbrough (1971) emphasized the necessity of school
leaders understanding and becoming involved with the power structure
of their communities. School persons need to understand the complexi
ties of politics, know the methods of gaining power within the existing
structure, and utilize this knowledge with successful action in
influencing decisions concerning the system (Hughes, 1967; Longstreth,
1


17
The perception of another influential's role is not necessarily
congruent with that person's perception of his/her own role. This
can become the basis of a significant problem causing situation
within the organization unless role definition occurs for all persons
involved in the process. Delineation of role is essential both for
individuals within the organization as well as for the community at
large.
The leadership style of the influentials within the system has
great impact upon the degree of decision making activity in which sub
ordinates may engage. The more dictatorial the leader, the less
involved in decision making those lower level employees may be.
This was found to be true both within district level organizations as
well as within schools and community colleges.
The degree to which a school or school organization is accepted
and supported by the community is dependent, in large part, upon the
willingness of the administrator to accept input from the community
and its subgroups. This is equally true for district level organiza
tions. Active involvement both at the district and school level is
seen as desirable although many administrators may actively resist
involvement.
Methodology
People have influence in a power structure by virtue of their
control over and effective use of certain resources (Kimbrough &
Nunnery, 1976). In order to direct and control these resources,
leaders must be in a position to regulate both tangible and intangible


4
considered. Only three issues were investigated in depth which may
have restricted the overall view of influence within the district
and may single out certain individuals as influential when, in fact,
other issues not investigated may not have indicated the same degree
of influence.
Staff in the district chose whether they would participate and
to what degree they would respond to questions. Since it is possible
that those persons who agreed to cooperate in the study differed
significantly from those who chose not to respond to some of the
investigated variables, the study may have been limited.
This study was delimited to responses from administrative staff
in the district school system, school board members, and professional
organization staff. It was further delimited by investigating staff
influence in only one district in the state.
Definition of Terms
Decision analysis technique. An interview method, originally
developed by Dahl (1961), of identifying leaders based on their
involvement in selected issues.
Formal organization. The planned structure of an organization
as described in organizational charts and formal documents.
Inf!uence. The attributed power of an individual to affect
decision making on educational issues.
Influential. A person who is judged to exercise a relatively
high degree of influence in determining the course of action to be
taken for varied interests. In this study, an influential is that


47
divisions. The major purpose of this group is to hear problems,
discuss resolution, discuss information shared at the SEMG meeting
and to discuss possible ramifications of decisions of that body
and the school board. Significant items are then directed to the
assistant superintendent's group or to the Superintendent's
Educational Management Group for further discussion and/or resolution.
The perception of effectiveness of these groups varies widely from
division to division although these groups are the most potentially
influential for establishing specific procedures necessary for
implementing or continuing any activity for that particular division.
Most recommendations from this group are usually accepted unless
there is significant overlap into other divisions' arenas or if there
is public or informal group involvement and interest counter to the
proposal.
General director/director's meetings. Each general director or
director directly responsible administratively to an assistant
superintendent is charged with the responsibility of meeting with
top staff in his/her program and seeing that all facets of the
program run smoothly. These meetings occur at the discretion of the
director of that particular program. Recommendations from these
groups are then shared with the assistant superintendent or with the
general directors/directors of that division. These groups are per
ceived to be very influential in reaching resolution on issues specific
to them but have little major policy making importance, especially
if the director does not wish to support the recommendations of the
group.


67
As seen by themselves, the influential ranked the super
intendent as the most influential, followed by the Assistant
Superintendent for Instruction and the Assistant Superintendent
for Business. The General Director, Exceptional Student Education,
was ranked fourth, and the Assistant Superintendent for Administra
tion, fifth, followed by the General Director for Elementary Education.
The chairperson of the school board is the median ranked person. In
the lower half of the rankings, the three shortest-tenured assistant
superintendents, the school board member, and the executive director
of the educational organization are found. The low local/state
influence of the school board member and the Assistant Superintendent
for Administration significantly lowered their respective scores and
rankings.
Times nominated ranking. The number of total times the identified
influential was selected as being influential by the first group
interviewed was also considered in perceiving the total influence of
the individuals. The maximum number of times a person could be chosen
was 57 and this number was divided into the total number of times a
person was selected by one of the original informants. The resulting
quotient was then multiplied by 100 in order to obtain a simple
proportion (see Table 11).
The scores in this category ranged from a 71.92 to 7.01 with the
superintendent scoring the highest followed by the Assistant Super
intendent for Administration and the executive director of the
educational association. The Assistant Superintendent for Instruction
was the only other person selected by more than 25 percent of the
total persons interviewed (Table 9).


Conclusions 122
General Recommendations 126
Recommendations for Further Research 126
REFERENCES 129
APPENDIX A INTERVIEW GUIDE A 134
B INTERVIEW GUIDE B 137
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 144
v


44
administration. Supervision must be added to the certificate within
a given period of time. The dean is directly responsible to the
principal and is acting principal during the absence of the principal
and the assistant principals. He/she assists in the preparation of
the master schedule and is responsible for student registration and
scheduling, pupil accounting, and truancy. He/she has the prime
responsibility for establishing programs to develop a high level of
self-discipline among students and is responsible for procuring
school and community personnel services to aid students who are
exhibiting significant problems behaviorally. This person supervises
the student clinic and oversees the development of programs.
Formal Procedures for Decision-Making
The county utilizes six basic components in the district-wide
decision making process. These components include the Assistant
Superintendents' Meetings, the Superintendent's Educational Management
Group, Division Meetings, Program Staff Meetings, Area Staff Meetings,
and Principals Meetings.
Assistant superintendents' meeting. The assistant superintendents
serve as an advisory group for the superintendent of schools. This
group meets weekly and discusses all items of major importance that
may be developing in each respective division. This gives each of
the assistant superintendents an opportunity to express the degree
of involvement of their division in any given issue resolution and to
establish major policy statements for future consideration by the
school board and by respective groups within the educational system.
No official minutes are maintained for this exclusive group and only


93
being a concern. The smoking ban and the attendance policy, both
issues considered by the school board during this investigation,
were significant to 10 percent of those polled.
Restructuring the curriculum in order to provide more time for
specific subjects was seen as the seventh most important concern,
especially by the elementary principals. Eight of the 16 elementary
principals interviewed indicated this was of prime importance
especially with the coming implementation of the Primary Education
Program which was indicated by 5 percent of the group as being an
important issue.
Other concerns receiving at least three expressions of importance
included: establishment of alternative programs, summer school and
year-long schooling, budgets, and teacher negotiations. Each was
mentioned by 5 percent of the population polled.
Several students from one of the smaller cities in the district
were retested on an examination in a manner not strictly in accordance
with policies established by the board. One of the students was the
son of a school board member and some attention was given to this
situation at two board meetings and in the local newspapers. Three
of the respondents felt this was an issue of importance at the time
of the interviews.
The other 24 issues mentioned were indicated by only one or two
persons. Most of these issues were primarily significant to the
specific job or area from which the person interviewed came or
worked, e.g., air conditioning the schools, bilingual education,
Affirmative Action, etc.


82
The Assistant Superintendent for Business was involved with a
number of different business groups in the major city. He has
served as an officer in these organizations and was considered a
very knowledgeable person in his field. His expertise in the finan
cial world was utilized by those organizations of which he was a
member.
The Assistant Superintendent for Administration indicated
that he belonged to only Kiwanis and the Kentucky Colonels, joined
when he was in Kentucky. He felt that organizational membership
for the sake of knowing the community and influencing decisions was
a "waste of time." He also felt that membership in professional
organizations was "ridiculous" unless it served some specific need
of the member. He appeared to feel that his knowledge was adequate
to handle the job and other information was unnecessary. He indicated
that he was not well known in the community as were some of the other
district staff members.
Informal Relationships and Friendships
Informal relationships have been shown to be of utmost importance
in the decision making process. These may take the forms of friend
ships that revolve around memberships in organizations, coffee groups,
or any other informal communicating enablers. An interesting array
of relationships existed in the school district organization and is
examined in this section.
Close friendships. The identified influentials were given a list
of the 13 influential indicated by the initial interviewees as
important decision makers within the school organization. They were


116
All influentiais except the superintendent lived in the
district for 25 years or more. Six were lifetime residents.
The school district employees all worked in education for
more than 13 years. All have served as principals. The school
board members have served for five and 20 years respectively.
The education association director was completing his fourteenth
year as a teacher. Since almost all of the top executives in the
district were either long-term residents or life-long members of
the area, this reflected a rather ingrown and circumscribed admin
istrative group. Some of the teachers from the district and some of
the community leaders, especially in the black community, viewed
the administrators as being primarily protective of each other and
the administrative group rather than being open to input from a
number of sources.
All school employees held at least a master's degree. Only the
superintendent and the General Director of the Exceptional Student
Program had doctorates. Degrees beyond the master's level were seen
by respondents as not really being necessary within this system
except for those persons "on their way up." Interviewees felt that
each of the present holders of a top level position will continue
there until he decides to retire or move from the area.
All influential were married and had from one to six children.
All, with the exception of the superintendent, had children who
attend or attended school in the public schools in this district.
All influential were active members of their professional
organizations with the exception of one assistant superintendent.


66
Table 10 shows the compilation of the two scores achieved by
each of the influential as they were ranked by the other influential
and by themselves. The ranking indicates the final ranking on the
two indices used in Interview Guide B.
Table 10
Final Ranking of Influential by Themselves and
Other Influentials Using Interview Guide B
Influential
Position
Weighted
Column
Score
Local/State
Influence
Score
Rank
RS
Superintendent
100.00
91.00
1
FF
Asst. Supt., Instruc.
71.42
75.00
2
WH
Asst. Supt., Business
71.42
50.00
3
JL
Gen. Dir., ESE
47.61
66.66
4
PW
Asst. Supt., Admin.
90.47
8.33
5
LW
Gen. Dir., Ele. Ed.
52.00
25.00
6
MR
School Board Chairperson
58.33
16.66
7
SR
Executive Dir., Educ. Asso
. 57.14
16.66
8
BH
School Board Member
66.66
0
9
RS
Asst. Supt., Voc. Ed.
34.52
25.00
10
RC
Asst. Supt., Personnel
41.66
8.33
11
HC
Asst. Supt., Supp. Ser.
34.52
8.33
12
LF
Secondary Principal
36.90
0
13


102
By 1975, the county schools had lost approximately 3,500
children from the school rolls. This was primarily due to the
decreasing birth rate in the county, that was reflective of the
population decrease in this age rar}ge throughout the country. Not
only was the total population decreasing but also the population in
the county was shifting significantly within the district itself.
More and more families with children were moving to the more rural
areas and fewer to the central city. Because the less monied
families were primarily those would could not move out of the city,
this meant there was a preponderance of minority children in the city
schools, thus creating a problem with complying with the desegregation
requirements of minority representation in each school in the district.
Since there was a great deal of negative reaction to increasing
the amount of busing that was already occuring in the county, it was
decided that the best way to continue to comply with the racial makeup
requirements as well as to run schools efficiently was to consider
closing some of the inner city schools that had fewer than 400 students
enrolled. A committee was established to look at the problem of over
and underpopulated schools. On May 9, 1978, a report was given to the
district school board.
The original recommendation was to close six schools in the
district. There was much public outcry against this recommendation
made by the Assistant Superintendent for Administration and his staff.
Groups of parents from those areas affected called school board
members at home, requested time to speak at board meetings, and held
meetings in the home areas to arm their communities to do battle


115
an effort to develop a profile of each influential identified.
Each influential was also asked to indicate his or her involvement
in specific issues that were confronting the school district. Each
also identified other influential who either interacted positively
or negatively in the resolution of these issues. Using this
methodology, 13 people were indicated as influential in the district
school organization. This represented a small percentage of total
administrative involvement and indicated a small, powerful group
of primarily men who make the major decisions in the district based
upon information they receive from their subordinates. These 13
persons included the superintendent, all assistant superintendents,
two general directors, one principal, two school board members, and
the director of the education association. Each influential appeared
to use his/her power in different ways within his/her specific group
or area as well as working with and influencing other influential.
A summary of the data revealed important characteristics of
the identified influentials. Only one female was included in the
list of influentials for the school district. She was the chairperson
of the school board and most interviewees felt her importance was
directly attributed to her position. Only one minority was identified
as an influential.
Age-wise, with the exception of the director of the education
association, all influentials were between 40 and 60 years old.
Only one, past chairman of the school board, is over 60. This
reflected the number of years it has taken all of these top influen
tials to move through the hierarchy to the top positions now held.


CHAPTER IV
PROCEDURES
Introduction
In this chapter, the procedures utilized in this study of an
urban county in Florida with a description of the sample, instru
mentation, and interviewing procedures are presented. A descrip
tion of the procedures used in analyzing the data is also included.
Overview
The design employed in this study is an adaptation of that
developed by Kimbrough (1975) and used in studies of community and
organizational leadership (Bartholomew, 1972; Collins, 1979;
Fleming, 1963; Iannaccone, 1959; Johns & Kimbrough, 1968; McCluskey,
1973). A case study of the decision making process and the identi
fied influential in a selected urban school district was completed.
This district was selected because of its size, proximity to the home
of the researcher, and because it is considered by a number of
educators to be a prime example of an effective bureaucratic educa
tional organization.
50


56
Data Analysis
Data from this study were utilized in a descriptive manner
using total raw data as well as rank order of responses. A con
figuration of the decision making structure as it existed at the
time the study was completed was obtained by utilizing analyses of
individual influential, formal and informal relationships, and
decisions or issues confronting the district.
Persons Identified as Influential
Each of the identified leaders was ranked by each of the
other leaders as well as by himself/herself on a five-point scale.
Each rating was assigned a weighting of seven to zero with seven
representing "exceptionally strong district wide influence," five
indicating "strong district wide influence," three representing
"strong special area and some district wide influence," one repre
senting "some special area but little district wide influence,"
and zero indicating "little special area or district wide influence."
Each of the ratings was then added, divided by the highest possible
total raw score and multiplied by 100 to reach a simple proportion.
This score was used as one of the three factors utilized for the
final ranking of the influential. These dysynchronous weightings
were used in order to adjust for respondents' propensity to attach
more importance or significance to the meaning of extreme choices.
The connotation of the superlatives used in designating the different
columns may reflect certain biases on the part of the respondents.
This procedure is often used in population and descriptive studies.


32
Superintendent's office. The superintendent of the county is
appointed by the seven member school board for a period of time and
salary established by that body (Florida Statute 230.321). The
superintendent is the executive office of the school district and,
with the school board, directs and controls all public schools within
the district (Florida Statute 230.35). The superintendent is
responsible for assisting in the organization of the school board,
attending all regular school board meetings, and calling special
meetings when necessary. He/she is also responsible for keeping
minutes of all official board actions and proceedings. He/she acts
as custodian for all school property; prepares long-term and annual
plans for the school program; establishes, organizes, and operates
schools, classes, and services in order to provide adequate educational
opportunities for all children; directs the work of personnel; and
attends to the welfare of all children within the district. The
superintendent is responsible for recommending adequate transportation
and school plant needs; maintaining financial records and budget;
enforcing laws and regulations; cooperating with the school board;
informing the general public of educational programs, needs, and
objectives of the public education program within the distict (Florida
Statute 230.35).
Directly responsible to the superintendent and based within the
superintendent's office are the administrative assistant and public
information officer. The administrative assistant, required to hold
a graduate degree in administration and supervision, is primarily
responsible for conducting all collective bargaining sessions for the


Internet Distribution Consent Agreement
In reference to the following dissertation: 1
Author: Jean K. Douglass
Title: Staff Perceptions of the Influentials, Issues and Decision Making
Process in a School System in Florida
Publication Date: 1981
I, Jean K. Douglass as copyright
holder for the afforementioned thesis or dissertation, hereby grant specific and limited
archive and distribution rights to the Board of Trustees of the University of F lorida
(hereinafter, the "UF") and its agents.
This is a non-exclusive grant of permissions for specific off-line and on-line uses for an
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University of Florida, to digitize and distribute the thesis or dissertation described above
for nonprofit, educational purposes via the Internet or successive technologies.
This grant of pennissions prohibits use of the digitized versions for commercial use or
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98
A copy of the original memorandum was not shared with the
General Director of Exceptional Student Education. During the
summer, the Assistant Superintendent for Instruction, who was often
described as being a democratically oriented administrator who was
sometimes "so democratic he never came to any conclusion," requested
that the Director of Student Services and the ESE Director meet with
him. In August, 1978, the Director of Student Services wrote another
memorandum to the Assistant Superintendent indicating there had been
"a breakdown in communications" with the ESE Department and she felt
a meeting was imperative so that the full needs of the diagnostic and
evaluation services could be met. She also indicated that she had
sent the ESE director a copy of her proposal as the Assistant Super
intendent "had requested," the first official acknowledgement to the
ESE Director although he had been privately informed of her move. No
major resolution was forthcoming according to the Director of Student
Services so she, on March 22, 1979, wrote a letter to the superintendent
expressing her frustration over the workload her staff was having to
bear because of PL 94-142. She sent copies of this letter to both
the Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and the ESE Director
but there was no evidence she consulted them about the letter prior
to its being sent to the superintendent.
It was reported that the superintendent was somewhat irritated
that the Director of Student Services had gone directly to him. The
ESE Director and his staff discussed the situation both in the
Assistant Superintendent's Division Meeting and in the Superintendent's
Educational Management Group, of which the ESE Director was a member.


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77
input, the school board directed the superintendent to rework the
recommendations made to that group.
In summary, most of the decisions in this school district were
made within the six divisions in the district office. If major
controversy occurredorif there was major overlap among division
in the resolution of a given issue, the Assistant Superintendent's
Group agreed upon a solution. Input may be given by other groups
within the district but most decisions were not changed to any great
degree after being made by one of these two groups. The Superinten
dent's Educational Management Group had effectively acted as a
communication vehicle in informing members of the administrative
community of major decisions and reasons for them. It did not,
however, make major changes in decisions made by either of the two
groups.
The superintendent was recognized as having the power to change
any decision made by any group other than the school board. He did
not use that power very often and usually supported his assistant
superintendents' recommendations. He also refused to get involved
in an inter-division disagreement concerning PL 94-142 monies and
suggested that the disgruntled division member solve her problem
within the division itself.
The school board usually supported the superintendent's recom
mendations. Rarely have they voted against his suggestions and then
only if the issue concerned a special interest area for them or if
the public became very involved in the concern.


128
An indepth investigation of a given subgroup within a
district such as a division in this school district would present
much data as to the process of decision making within that smaller
group. This would give the investigator an opportunity to detail
interactions among individuals in that particular subgroup and to
discern in fullest detail the informal organization at work.
An investigation of the techniques used by educational
association personnel in influencing districts to make concessions
to their membership would be helpful. A comparison of those
organizations considered to be effective with those considered
relatively ineffective could aid negotiators and other administra
tors in dealing more skillfully with those personnel.


141
5. With which leaders did you work closely on this decision?
Decision
II.
1.
What person or persons initiated action on this decision?
2.
What person or persons opposed them?
3.
What was your position on this issue?
4.
How did .you support your position?
5. With which leaders did you work closely on this decision?
Additional questions concerning decision making:
1. Of all the decisions, projects, or problems with which you
have been concerned here in the district, which one did you work the
hardest to support or oppose?
2. Please give us a detailed account of how you provided
leadership for this particular decision. Whom did you first
contact and with whom did you work closely on that decision?


112
the groups, presented the recommendations to the Superintendent's
Education Management Group, and wrote the memoranda to the super
intendent. The influential principal from the high school was also
instrumental in developing the recommendations for the school board
and the superintendent. He indicated that he thought it was doomed
to failure before it was even brought back up for school board con
sideration the second time. He also did not feel it would remain
in effect for more than two years because all of the school board
members would be kept up to date on a regular basis by high school
principals of the ineffectiveness of this policy.
Public sentiment had apparently died down by the end of the
following week for there was only one article in the local papers.
It, too, was negative but indicated that the ban could be used in
a racially discriminatory manner against minority children.
Results of this descriptive study of an urban school district,
its influential, and its decision making processes, have been
reported in this chapter. A description of the specific data
describing the influentials, influential organizations, and
influential involvement in three decisions have been summarized for
the reader. A discussion of the data related to the power dynamics
of the administration and staff will be presented in Chapter VI
followed by a summary of the principal findings of the study as well
as general conclusions and recommendations.


20
Geographic spread is assured by interviews and decisions, issues
and problems studied; influential persons within the area; and
significant organizations are identified. Subsequent interviews are
then constructed from the data obtained. Questions appropriate to
initially discovering leadership dynamics and decision making processes
are the foci for these investigations (Andes et al., 1971; Collins,
1979; Craft, 1977; Elmer, 1976; Frasher, 1970; Friga, 1970; Johns &
Kimbrough, 1968; Trufant, 1970; Zenke, 1970).
Extensive research in power and decision making has been conducted
since the landmark work in this area was completed by Hunter in 1973.
A move has been observed from the simple designation of the position
holder as influential within a community or organization to a much
more sophisticated means of discovering who actually does possess and
use influence in decision making.
Most current research involves a combination of techniques such
as the reputational and decision analysis methods or modifications of
those techniques in order to observe the attainment and use of power
by individuals and groups within specific systems. Real decisions are
explored in order to observe the actual use of power and influence in
actual decisions by persons perceived as influential in order to
ascertain their role in determining policy or in resolving issues.
Research methodology such as that proposed by Kimbrough and others has
aided in the development of a more refined and conclusive method of
identifying influential within organizations and communities.
By enabling the group member to better understand the inner
workings of his or her organization, that person is thereby provided


74
Table 13
Organizations Identified Three or More Times
as Influential by Selected Informants
Organization
Number of
Times Selected
Percentage of
Total
County Education Association
40
70
Senior High Principals
28
49
County School Board
24
42
Elementary Principals
21
37
Citizens Advisory Committee
21
37
Superintendent's Educational
Management Group
16
28
PTA County Council
12
21
Assistant Superintendents
9
16
Junior High Principals
9
16
Urban League/NAACP
6
11
Parent Advisory Group
4
7
Area Directors
3
5
Biracial Committee
3
5
Vocational Advisory Committee
3
5


12
and others that community groups must be involved in decision making
and that school systems must become more pluralistic in order to
deal more effectively with the increasingly pluralistic societies
developing in urban centers. Improved public relations will be
one outcome of such modifications.
Schools themselves have been studied to some degree by contem
porary researchers in attempting to identify the decision making
process operating within that institution. Iannaccone (1959) found
that the informal organization exerted strong influence upon matters
concerning critical school policy issues and is used when satisfactory
decisions are not made through the formal organizational channels.
Fleming (1963) attempted to compare the decision making process
in two junior high schools and found that informal groups were actively
involved in exerting influence to change formal discipline policy.
He also identified certain members who were not formal status leaders
who could and did exert influence to guide certain school operations.
Cliques were active in both schools.
Verchota (1971) focused on how teachers perceived the power
structure and the power of the department chairman in selected schools
in Illinois. A major conclusion was that the nature of the district
administration had impact upon what the teachers' perceptions were of
the power structure and that the interpersonal relationships within
the school modified this pattern.
Friga (1970) analyzed interactions in three elementary schools
in "Northern City." He selected an inner city elementary school, a
transitional elementary school, and an outer city elementary school.


APPENDIX A
INTERVIEW GUIDE A
As part of our work at the University of Florida, we are making
a study of leadership in this district. To do this, some information
is needed from a number of persons like you who are actively informed
about the affairs of this school district.
All information given will be kept completely confidential and
pseudo-names will be used in our report. Personal opinions will be
revealed to no one else.
We need your frank opinions about district school affairs and
leadership. Your knowledge of the district will be of great help
to us in our study.
What do you consider to be the most significant decisions (issues or
problems) which have confronted the school district during the past
three years, or may have to be resolved in the next few months?
134


58
description of the decisions with regard to detailed actions of
the influential in the decision making process concerning each
specific issue.


140
The following questions refer to the list of leaders.
1. Which of the above persons do you feel you could count on
most for support if you were interested in putting across a district
wide project?
2. Of the persons listed above, which would be most likely to
cause you the most trouble in putting across a district-wide project?
3. From the list above, which persons have influence with district
leaders or state leaders through whom they can get things done for the
district?
4. Among the persons nominated as leaders above, which ones have
a reputation for having influence with agencies within the district or
the state through whom they can get things done for the district
school system?
5. Which of the persons named above do you consider your close
friends?
Decisions
Decision I.
1.What person or persons initiated action on this decision?
2.What person or persons opposed them?
3.What was your position on this issue?
4.How did you support your position?


15
wide sharing of leadership existed among faculty members and over
62 percent of the leaders were not key administrators as designated
on the organizational chart. Informal groups were important elements
through which decisions were made in the organization as were the
formal organizations or groups.
Another case study of a community college in California found that
local external forces dominated the decision making process in this
area. Power and influence flowed downward and few options were left
by the time decisions reached the faculty level. Student involvement
in decision change was very small. One dean was found to be signifi
cantly influential to the point that, if he approved a program
regardless of which department it impacted upon, it would be accepted.
He was considered the most powerful person on the entire campus
(O'Hara, 1978).
Zoglin (1980) found that in California community colleges
decision making in curriculum was defined by diverse groups including
the community. The community is extremely important in successfully
achieving goals set for the organization and it must be included in
giving input for decisions.
Weiner (1979) studied a suburban community outside Boston in
order to determine whether or not an urban political decision making
model would be effective in the examination of suburban educational
decisions. A decision making model developed by Bolen and Nattall
was used to investigate three educational decisions in a suburban
community. The model was used to assess how individuals' roles and
skills affected their importance to the decision making process.


41
General area directors. The county is subdivided into four
geographical areas, each supervised by a general area director who
is under the direct administrative control of the Assistant
Superintendent of Administration and Operations. These four
persons are primarily responsible for maintaining a direct liaison
with schools in a given area and the District Office. Area directors
approve use of school facilities, preside over Area Principals'
Meetings, visit school centers, and make recommendations in all
areas, investigate complaints against schools and personnel, visit
classes and make recommendations to instructional supervisors. In
addition, this individual aids in the development of transportation
schedules, school schedules, budgets, rezoning recommendations,
school attendance areas, and evaluates principals of schools. Offices
for the directors are maintained both in the areas in which they work
as well as in the District Office Building immediately adjacent to
the Administration and Operations Section.
Salaries for the general area directors are the same as the
general directors--approximately 17 percent less than the assistant
superintendents.
Principals. All principals in this county are directly responsible
to the Assistant Superintendent for Administration and Operations.
Each is required to hold a valid Rank II certificate including
administration and supervision. Elementary principals must be
certified in elementary administration and supervision and high school
principals in secondary administration and supervision. All principals
must have three years of full-time successful experience as a teacher.
The principal is considered the administrative and supervisory head


126
General Recommendations
First, since educators have for years found themselves in the
political arena without sufficient preparation to deal with the
intricacies found there, public school administrators must be given
ample opportunity for professional training to develop the skills
necessary to deal with political power and personal contact with
leaders in the power structure. It is essential for all administra
tors to have a working knowledge of how the decision making process
works within an organization whether it is a school, school district,
or state. It is equally important that administrators know how to
influence the formal and informal organizations that operate within
a district or other body.
Second, since the educational administrator cannot completely
understand the total organizational system for decision making through
concentrating only upon the formal structure, it is recommended that
school administrators study the formal and informal exercise of
power for the purpose of improving the Quantity and the quality of
communication flow throughout the organization. Greater exchange of
information between subsystems of the organization should result.
Recommendations for Further Research
The very largeness of a district such as the district studied
imposes great constraints upon an organization. Communication is
often poorly effected and moves must be made to constantly improve
each person's feeling of understanding and involvement in the total


33
school board as well as conducting hearings and to answer employee
grievances filed with the superintendent. This staff member is
responsible for acting as system liaison with the district wide
Citizen Bi-Racial Committee which was ordered by the U.S. District
Court of Appeals in June, 1971. He/she is also responsible for
acting as liaison for the District Parent Teacher Association Joint
Advisory Committee and School Volunteers. The administrative
assistant coordinates the superintendent's budget preparation as
well.
The public information officer is required to hold a current
teaching certificate and to have had successful experience in dealing
with the public information field, especially with the media. The
public information officer has the prime responsibility of acting
as a liaison with the public, schools and the school board, and keeping
all informed of events taking place within the school system that
might impact upon any one of them. This person is also responsible
for developing and distributing newsletters and other communicative
vehicles to staff, school board members, and the public. A Fact
Sheet is prepared prior to each school board meeting informing all who
are interested of the major topics to be considered by that body at
its next meeting. A School Board Piqest is made available the day
after each school board meeting indicating the major decisions that
were made by that group. The person currently holding this office
developed a history of the earliest district schools in observation
of the Bicentennial Year, annually develops materials to be used
during the American Education Week and is always on call to provide


49
These groups are considered by many persons interviewed to
be quite powerful and to have much impact on decision making in
the district. The secondary principals are seen as most and
junior high principals are seen as least influential by most
respondents including themselves.
Summary
This chapter has presented a description of the setting within
which this study was conducted. The environments, both community and
educational, are described in some detail. Formal groups that
participate in the decision making process are also described.


53
Interview Guide A
Interview Guide A (Appendix A) was used to identify the most
significant issues or problems with which the organization has had
to contend over the past three years. Those persons were then
identified who were seen to be the most influential in the
initiation or implementation phases of these issue areas. Those
organizations viewed by those persons interviewed as having the most
influence on decision making in the schools were identified. Also
identified were those persons within those influential organizations
who were perceived to have exerted the most influence in specific
problem resolution.
Interview Guide B
Interview Guide B (Appendix B) was used with those persons
identified in the initial interview as having or wielding significant
power within the district organization. Personal data as well as
opinion concerning the relative weight of involvement in issues were
elicited from each identified influential. Personal information
concerning each influential interviewed was also obtained during the
'i
interview process.
Initial Interviews
Selected professional staff in the administrative structure of
the district schools as well as school board members were interviewed,
and data were collected regarding those persons perceived as influential,
issues of importance, and influential involvement in the resolution of


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Jean Kelly Douglass was born on December 10, 1939, in Sebring,
Florida. She attended Florida State University in Tallahassee for
one year and graduated from the University of Florida with a
bachelor's degree in social studies education in 1961. She
completed her master's degree in special education at the University
of Florida in 1968.
Jean Douglass was employed by the Highlands County School Board
in August, 1962, as an elementary teacher and served in that capacity
for two years. Since 1964, she has served as a teacher of the
mentally handicapped, gifted, and homebound students. In 1968,
she was appointed as coordinator of the exceptional student education
program and has served in that capacity until the present. She is
currently completing a two-year term as president of the Florida
Council of Special Education Administrators and serves on the
Governor's Human Rights Advocacy Commission.
144


92
Table 16
Significant Issues, Problems, or Decisions Identified by
Selected Informants
Issues, Problems, or Decisions
Number of
Times
Nominated
Percentage of
Total
Respondents
Public Law 94-142 Funding and Implementation
23
40
Closing of Schools
14
24
Salaries
10
17
Compensatory Education Programming
9
15
Smoking Ban on High School Campuses
6
10
Attendance Policy
6
10
Restructuring Curriculum
5
8
Assessment of Students
4
7
Alternative Programs
3
5
Primary Education Program PREP
3
5
Summer School Year-Long Schooling
3
5
Budgets
3
5
Retesting Students in Plant City
3
5
Teacher Negotiations
3
5


85
the head of the negotiating team for the district and thus comes
into contact with the membership in the educational association.
Figure 2
Mutual and Unilateral Choices Among Influential
The Assistant Superintendent for Instruction (FF) was chosen by
four other influential as was the Assistant^Superintendent for
Administration (PW)- Only one of the persons who selected one of the
assistant superintendents also selected the other, i.e., the Assistant
Superintendent for Support Services (HC). HC is the newest assistant
superintendent within the organization and the only minority. He was
described by two other influential as the type of person who


21
a method by which positive solutions to problems can be addressed
more efficiently and effectively. A smoother operation within that
organization should be the ultimate goal of such investigations.
The refinement of these techniques is continuing. More use is
being made of them within specific organizations as well as within
communities and larger regions. Positive changes in organizational
effectiveness should result.
A review of the literature dealing with field studies in decision
making has been presented. Rationale for and methods of discerning the
power structure and decision making in communities and organizations
have been described delineating the evolving nature of these
techniques.



101
During the 1970-71 school year, a complaint was again made
concerning the noncompliance of the district school board in
meeting the dictates of the order so, in March, 1971, in response
to a Court directive, the school board submitted a final new plan
that was approved in April by the Court of Appeals. Another Order
was then submitted by the Court which in effect stated that, in
order to achieve total desegregation, pairing, grouping, and
clustering of schools and students could be used but that total
desegregation must occur. This case was the oldest active case on
the docket of the Circuit Court--filed in December, 1958, and finally
resolved in June, 1971.
The plan approved by the Federal Court in 1971 basically made
most of the black elementary schools into sixth grade centers that
were clustered with K-5 white schools. Black junior highs, along
with some white schools, became seventh grade centers that fed
students into white eighth and ninth grade centers. The two formerly
black senior high schools became junior highs and the white senior
highs were retained. In some naturally integrated areas, elementary
and junior high schools became grades K-6 and 7-9.
This county has been acclaimed across the country as having
implemented that plan peacefully and without major incidents. School
officials have said that community cooperation was the major reason
for the smooth transition but some black leaders have stated that
desegregation was without incident because the black community bore
the burden of desegregation.


29
exceptional student school. This is a reduction of three schools
from those operating in 1978-79, providing part of the basis for
one of the major issues facing this system.
The budget for this school district is funded through federal,
state, and local sources. The anticipated budget of $252,361,382 for
1979-80 was supported by the following: federal, 7.3 percent;
state, 57.9 percent; and local district and fund balance, 34.8 per
cent. It has risen from a total budget of $230,643 in 1978-79,
an increase of 9.4 percent. The budget for 1979-80 included a 7
percent raise in salaries for both administrative/supervisory and
non-instructional staff, as well as a 7 percent increase in instruc
tional salaries.
Achievement Levels
An analysis of results of the state student assessment given to
students in grades three, five, eight, and 11 on basic skills and
functional literacy indicates that students in the county perform at
approximately the same level as other students in Florida. A compari
son of the results of the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS)
which is given to all students in kindergarten through tenth grade
indicates that these students achieve at or above the national
average for all grades. Students in the county scored higher on the
Scholastic Aptitude Test, administered to college-bound seniors
annually, than the national average, Florida average, or the
Southeastern United States average which indicated an increase in
scores from previous years.


28
7. A large number of parents and students were unaware of the
programs in special education and bilingual education.
8. The majority of parents and teachers felt creationism should
be taught and prayer allowed.
The District School System
The following information was derived from material published by
the school board for use with community and school leaders (Hillsborough
County School Board, 1980). The school system is ranked as the 14th
largest school system in the United States and is the third largest
in Florida. In September, 1979, there were 126 schools in operation
serving 113,947 students in public school programs. Of this population,
9,812 students are exceptional students served in special programs
and 1,601 are students in early childhood or Head Start Centers.
Permanent instructional staff number 6,746 while another 5,130 persons
serve as permanent non-instructional staff. Another 3,900 staff
members are classified as temporary and substitutes.: So, there is a
total of 15,776 staff members,
Student enrollment declined somewhat between 1976 and 1978 with an
approximate decrease of 300 students each year. By the beginning of
the 1979-80 school year, however, there was an increase of 800
students thus showing a net increase of 118 students since 1976.
Budget and Schools
There are 126 schools currently operating in the district, 88
elementary, 25 junior high, 1 middle school, 11 senior high, and one


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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The author wishes to express her appreciation to all those who
have helped to make this study possible. In particular, the
author wishes to acknowledge the guidance given by the chairman
of her doctoral committee and director of the dissertation, Dr.
Charles Forgnone. The aid and counsel of the other members of the
doctoral committee, Dr. Ralph Kimbrough, Dr. Michael Nunnery, Dr.
Robert Algozzine, and Dr. John Nickens are deeply appreciated.
Particular thanks are extended to the staff of the Hillsborough
County Schools and the Hillsborough County School Board. Without
their cooperation, this study would have been impossible.
For their generous support and understanding, the author wishes
to express her gratitude to Louise, Boone, Smith, Margaret, and
George. Much appreciation is also extended to colleagues and personal
friends who have been genuine advocates of the author.
I
ii


78
Membership in Professional Organizations
All of the influentials were members of the associations that
served their particular area of expertise with the exception of
the Assistant Superintendent for Administration who listed the
National Education Association and the local credit union as his
only professional affiliations. Ten of the influentials listed
national memberships and one, the General Director of Exceptional
Students, served as a national officer in two organizations. Six
influentials indicated holding state offices in their respective
organization, served as secretary of the local Democratic Party,
the only respondent who indicated direct political involvement as
an office holder. The superintendent, three assistant superinten
dents, and the general directors indicated much informal political
contact both through their organizations and individually. The
newly formed Florida Association for School Administrators was seen as
an important decision making organization in the state by eight of
the 13 influentials.
Membership in Civic and Other Organizations
All of the influentials indicated varying degrees of involvement
in civic and other organizations. Kiwanis, Chambers of Commerce,
Hospital Board, Shriners, Sherriff's Possee, and church affiliations
were all mentioned. Table 14 indicates the major affiliations of the
influentials.
The Methodist Church was the most often mentioned organization
to which the influentials belonged. This was a different church,
however, for each influential. The Chamber of Commerce for different


96
transportation, and providing equipment were under great pressure.
Action was taken by the State Legislature during the 1978 session
to change the due process law in order for Florida to begin receiving
funds for the 1978-79 school year.
Involvement by groups and influentials. Each influential
questioned about the implementation of the requirements of PL 94-142
said they depended upon the General Director of Exceptional Students
to "show them the way." All said they depended totally on the
General Director's guidance in the entire issue even though they felt
that many of the requirements were excessive. The superintendent
insisted that the county would obey the legal requirements and
instructed the Assistant Superintendent for Instruction to develop
the best plan for providing services for the county's handicapped
population.
The General Director of Exceptional Students developed the first
plan himself although there was an effort by the Director of Student
Services to utilize much of the money in her program. Monies were
allocated on the basis of the number of handicapped students reported
in the previous year as having received services from one or more
programs for the handicapped. In the district the allocation was
$283,509.00 or approximately $4,000,000.00 for the entire state.
This amount of money was significant even for a district the size of
this one and many of the departments within the system made suggestions
as to how the monies could be best expended. The effort by the
Director of Student Services was the most concerted.


68
Table 11
Persons
Identified Three or More Times as
With Interview Guide A
Influential
Influential
Position
Percentage of
Total Group
Rank
RS
Superintendent of Schools
71.92
1
PW
Asst. Supt., Administration
47.36
2
SR
Ex. Director, Educ. Association
42.10
3
FF
Asst. Supt., Instruction
31.57
4
JL
Gen. Dir., Ex. Student Ed.
17.54
5.5
MR
Chairperson, School Board
17.54
5.5
LW
Gen. Dir., Elementary Educ.
14.03
7
WH
Asst. Supt., Business
10.52
8.3
BH
Member, School Board
10.52
8.3
LF
Principal, High School
10.52
8.3
RS
Asst. Supt., Vocational-Technical
7.01
11.3
RC
Asst. Supt., Personnel
7.01
11.3
HC
Asst. Supt., Support Services
7.01
11.3
Comparison of final rankings of the leaders. Table 12 indicates
the final rankins by two groups of persons; one questioned with
Interview Guide A and the other with Interview Guide B, a non-randomly
selected group. A comparison of the results of these two rankings
indicated there was agreement as to the superintendent being the most
influential and to the relative ranking in the lower half of influence


18
"things" people value. This does not necessitate a formal position
of power. In fact, those holding positions viewed by the lay person
as powerful may be mere figureheads with no real influence within
the greater community.
Prior to the 1950s, persons of power were usually indicated by
the position or office they held in a formal organization. It soon
became apparent that many miscalculations were made using this method
and the influence of the informal group was rarely considered.
The formal study of the community power structure is generally
viewed as having been initiated by Hunter (1953) in Atlanta. He is
credited with developing and employing the reputational model whereby
selected community leaders were asked to nominate those persons they
considered to be the most important influential persons in the
community. A panel of judges was then asked to select the most
prominent persons from this list of influential persons. Indepth
interviews were conducted with each of these persons in an attempt to
discover the dynamics of the power structure within the community or
organization.
Dahl (1961) developed the decision analysis technique in order
to demonstrate that the unveiling of a community power structure is
more effectively accomplished by analyzing leader involvement in issues.
New Haven, Connecticut, was the original site for utilization of this
method. Investigators using this method selected decision areas for
indepth study. Persons affiliated with these decision areas were then
interviewed and asked to indicate the most significant decisions made
in their field and those persons involved in the decision making process.


109
principals in policing the school smoking area and that it was
conducive to the smoking of marijuana since administrators could
not discern what a student might be smoking unless he checked out
each one. He further indicated that he had never expressed
himself before because he was an employee of the school district
and it is often hard to not go through channels.
An extended period of discussion among members of the school
board ensued. At one point in the debate, one member suggested
that all smoking in all school building including the Board Room
be prohibited. This motion was withdrawn but did receive some
supportive remarks from some board members. The superintendent
reminded the board of the rationale used by the group when the policy
was reinstated--it is much easier and safer to control smoking in
areas such as restrooms if there is an area provided and that closing
the area would probably not cause anyone to stop smoking. He also
indicated that parents and students should have an opportunity to
express their feelings about the proposal before the board voted
definitely. The board agreed to seek more input and voted to study
the situation for a final vote to be taken in the future.
During the February 27 school board meeting the attorney for the
school board indicated that the school board could designate smoking
and non-smoking areas in the Board Room if it wished. It could also
prohibit smoking "until we are taken to court" if that was consistent
with the wishes of the board. The chairperson requested that a staff
member display signs thanking people for not smoking. The board
agreed. During this meeting, one of the board members requested


10
between both groups that superintendents and board of education are
the most influential in decision making. Both groups also felt the
teacher union should play a minor role in decision making. The board
members felt the superintendents had more power than superintendents
felt they personally had but superintendents felt the board members
should have less influence than they actually had.
Parsons (1978) studied the decision making process in the East
China, Michigan, schools and found that board members felt coordina
tors at the district office should have a significant role in decision
making in curriculum matters. Principals felt they were more influen
tial in the decision making process than did board members and
teachers felt principals were prime decision makersa potential
source of conflict with which the principals must deal.
An investigation of the different perceptions held by school board
members, superintendents, and lay citizens of the decision making role
of the superintendent in the St. Louis area was conducted by Thouvenaut
(1979). He found that the superintendents perceived they had more
independent authority than community members who felt there was greater
board involvement. Older people felt the superintendent needed more
authority; more skilled persons perceived superintendents as being
more independent. Rural respondents perceived the superintendent as
more independent than those from larger urban areas. Those with less
educational background felt there should be less superintendent
independence. The board members indicated they were willing to give
superintendents more authority than constituents felt they should.


14
A study by King (1979) analyzed similarities between superin
tendent and elementary principals' respective roles in decision
making. Little relationship between their perceptions of each other's
roles was disclosed.
Perry (1979) researched the perceptions of principals as to the
increased involvement of the community in decision making. He found
principals were not willing to relinquish a great deal of authority in
decision making to community groups especially in the area of teaching
personnel. Their involvement should be in community relations and
not in internal workings of the school. Elementary principals were
more open than secondary principals to community involvement.
A description of decision making patterns of nine school principals
was completed by Cross (1980). His observations of these principals
in their natural setting as well as in given structured situations
revealed that most principals dealt with problems developing in their
attendance area. He also found that principals made decisions very
rapidly when confronted with problem situations. This, in some
cases, led to poor decisions. The principals did not go through
accepted steps in problem solving when confronted with more than 100
problems each day. Cross also found that the principals depended upon
themselves rather than upon data for the decisions they made. They
were strongly influenced by subordinates, little by superordinates.
Community colleges have also been studied in order to discern how
the decision making process operates. Influential were also identified.
Melton (1973) examined the decision making process in a selected
collegially organized community college in Florida. He found that


Table 4
Administrative Staff Found Within Divisions
Division
General Area
Directors
General
Directors
Directors
Asst.
Directors
Superv.
Principals,
Specialists,
Assistants, or
Coordinators
TOTAL
Administration &
Operations
4
1
6
0
10
26
47
Business & Research
0
0
3
2
15
22
42
Instruction
0
3
4
0
36
49
92
Personnel
0
0
1
0
7
20
28
Support Services
0
0
2
0
19
66
87
Vocational, Technical
& Adult
0
1
4
0
25
64
94
TOTAL
4
5
20
2
112
247
390
-p*
o


7
Chapter V describes the results of the research undertaken.
Designation of the influential and formal and informal groups as
well as the decisions studied are explained and data are discussed
Chapter VI summarizes and discusses the implications of the
research conducted. Recommendations for future investigation are
also included.


127
structure. Communication channels have been found to operate
through informal groups of persons in an organization in this and
other studies. It is recommended that additional research be con
ducted to identify leaders and patterns of association as a means
of enhancing the quality of conmunication within the district.
Additional research into discovering methods of uncovering the
power structure and communication process is also needed for the
practitioner. Since knowledge of the system provides a useful
resource in helping the faculty bring about organizational change
and improvement, additional effort to enhance greater understanding
of the organization should be encouraged.
A comparison of leadership styles of persons identified as
influential within a given district, with observations made of those
persons over a long period of time in a variety of circumstances
would be helpful in designating those types of leaders who work best
within certain situations. Those kinds of leadership activities
which are most successful in dealing with specific types of problems
could also be clarified.
A comparison of different organizational structures of school
districts would afford the researcher a view of districts dealing
with similar problems and to rate the effectiveness of organizational
procedures within each district. A comparison of districts of
similar size who have extremely dissimilar state audit results would
perhaps indicate some meaningful differences in procedures or utiliza
tion of staff that would aid other districts in becoming more
efficient or effective in reaching their overall goals.


89
School board members were also seen as supportive. Most
influential reported some preliminary contact with members prior
to official presentation of a project to the total board. Both
school board members indicated they appreciated this move and felt
no reluctance on the part of the superintendent for his assistants
to do this. The superintendent also supported this move by his staff
although he wanted to be aware of and in agreement with the situation
in question. The superintendent perceived the school board as being
very supportive of his requests. Other influential agreed but felt
this was because the superintendent was able to assess the board's
feeling and know if any proposal "had a 100 percent chance of passing.
Most of the "no" votes he had received were seen as primarily non-
educational and insignificant to the major educational process.
Project opponents. The Assistant Superintendent for Administra
tion (PW). was perceived as the pefson most likely to be against a
particular project put forth by one of the other influential. He
was described as being against everything he was "not totally for."
All of the other influential felt that PW presented the most
difficult obstacle for them to overcome since he has so much impact
in so many areas in the county office. He was seen as the super
intendent's hatchet man and enjoyed that role to a great extent.
The executive director of the education association (SR) was
seen as the second most likely person to oppose proposals. The
three persons who perceived him in this way were the superintendent
and the two school board members. Many people interviewed felt SR
would disagree with something publicly in order.-to.give.the union


132
Parsons, E. A study of the administrative decision making process
in the East China, Michigan public school system (Doctoral
dissertation, Wayne State University, 1977). Dissertation
Abstracts International, 1978, 38(11-A), 6452. (University
Microfilms No. 78-04943)
Peach, L. E. Perceptions of participation in decision making and
satisfaction with decisions made in the Knox County school system
(Doctoral dissertation, University of Tennessee, 1978).
Dissertation Abstracts International, 1979, 39{8-A), 4635.
(University Microfilms No. 79-03461)
Perry, K. E. Indiana school principals' perceptions concerning a
proposed model for community involvement in the educational
decision making process (Doctoral dissertation, Indiana State
University, 1978). Dissertation Abstracts International, 1979,
39(9-A), 5245. (University Microfilms No. 79-05959)
Presthus, R. Men at the top: A study in community power. New York:
Oxford University Press, 1964.
Rosen, S., Levinger, 6., & Lippitt, R. Perceived sources of social
power. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 1961, 62,
439-441.
Shaffer, R. Comparative characteristics of the power structure of
three selected high effort school districts in Kentucky (Doctoral
dissertation, University of Florida, 1966). Dissertation Abstracts
International, 1967, 27(09-A), 2805. (University Microfilms No.
67-03505)
Smith, C., & Tannenbaum, A. Some implications of leadership and
control for effectiveness in a voluntary association. Human
Relations, 1965, 18^, 265-272.
Tampa Tribune. School board meeting, March 12, 1979.
Tampa Tribune. How effective are schools in Hillsborough County,
June 20, 1980.
Thompson, J. Authority and power in "identical" organizations.
American Journal of Sociology, 1956, 62_, 290-301.
Thouvenaut, F. J. An analysis of the congruence of perceptions of local
school board members with superintendents and lay citizens con
cerning the role of the superintendent in the decision making
process of the local school district (Doctoral dissertation,
St. Louis University, 1978). Dissertation Abstracts International,
1979, 39(10-A), 5864. (University Microfilm No. 79-08311)


26
areas of major concern by the public (WFLA News, 1979):
1. transportation facilities,
2. state of the economy,
3. health and welfare of all citizens,
4. quality of education,
5. growth patterns of the district,
6. women and minority rights and progress,
7. crime and its curtailment,
8. energy and environment,
9. housing--public and availability of housing for middle
income citizens, and
10.dissatisfaction with government operations and spending.
Education was mentioned as a part of several of the concerns listed
above. Transportation and its relationship to available energy were
often mentioned as were growth patterns of the county and the resultant
pressure to close schools. The quality of education, upgrading of
courses, back to basics and testing results were of paramount interest
to the lay public. Much concern was expressed about the ability of
the economy to support this endeavor.
Much dissatisfaction was expressed about all levels of government
with the greatest degree of negative feeling concerning the federal
and state levels of bureaucracy--overspending, bureaucratic waste and
political appointment of agency heads who have no real ability in
their area of responsibilities. Local and district bureaucracy were
1
also mentioned as having negative aspects but were not seen as nega
tively as other governmental levels.


TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . 11
ABSTRACT vt
CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION 1
The Problem ....... 3
Statement of the Problem 3
Delimitations and Limitations . 3
Definition of Terms 4
Justification of the Study 5
Organization of the Study 6
CHAPTER II
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE 8
Introduction 8
Research in Decision Making 8
Methodology 17
CHAPTER III
SETTING 22
The Community and District 22
Area 22
Population 22
Economic Life 24
Government of the District and County Seat 25
Concerns of the District 25
The District School System 28
Budget and Schools 28
Achievement Levels 29
District Office 30
Administrative Organization of the District 30
Formal Procedures for Decision Making 44
Summary 49
iii


51
Sample
The sample selected for this study included administrative
staff from both the district and school levels, and school board
members from a large urban school district in Florida of between
75,000 and 125,000 students. Data obtained from interviews with
these individuals were used to determine which individuals and
which major decision areas were investigated in depth.
The Interview Sample
The field research portion of this study was initiated with the
selection of a cross-section of persons who generated a list of
individuals they perceived to be influential in the decision making
process in the school system as well as to identify issues they felt
were important to the school system during the past three years.
Subsystems within the system were identified and representative
persons were chosen from within each of those groupings. Segments
of the school district that were selected included each of the
divisions of the district school board office, principals' groups,
and school board members (see Table 5).
Interviews With the Selected Informants
Interview Guide A (see Appendix A) was used in interviewing the
59 selected informants in regard to the identification of influential,
issues, and organizations within the school district that were
important in educational decision making. Each individual was con
tacted and interviewed using the questions contained in Interview
Guide A. The objectives of the study were explained and each
participant was assured of his/her anonymity.


38
The Assistant Superintendent for Personnel has the smallest
district staff in the county. Of the 68 staff members, 40 are
identified as clerical or secretarial or 50 percent of the total
staff. Four major areas (personnel placement, instructional and
non-instructional; security, and risk management and safety) are
described at three different sites with 13 administrative jobs
outlines. This assistant superintendent is given responsibility for
recruitment, assignment, transfer, coordination of the substitute
program, maintenance of certification and personnel records for all
staff, retirement and employee insurance as well as development of
safety provisions for the entire district. Thirteen administrative
jobs are described in three different sites.
The Assistant Superintendent for Support Services employs 140
staff at the district level. Fifty-three, or 38 percent of the staff,
are clerical or secretarial staff. This division has 23 major units,
the largest of all the divisions in the district. Offices are
located at 16 different sites and include programs located in private
and parochial schools in the district. All federal programs are
administered through this office as well as the Office of Human
Relations for the district.
The Assistant Superintendent for Vocational, Technical and Adult
Education employs the second largest number of district staff with
the smallest percentage of secretarial or clerical staff (35 percent).
This assistant superintendent has administrative responsibility over
eight programs on 43 sites. These sites include all adult education
and community schools centers as well as programs for juvenile


16
Several hypotheses were examined to test how the perceptions of key
decision makers influenced the decision making process. It was con
cluded that individuals who played one or more of the eight process
roles identified were more important than individuals who did not.
No significant relationship existed between an individual's importance
and the individual's skill or his/her position on the issue.
Collins (1979) used the University of Florida format to investi
gate the decision process in a rural county in Mississippi. He found
there was a discernible power structure in this district made up of
blacks and whites with a significant number of politicians indicated
as influential. He also found that influence in making decisions was
primarily used in an informal setting and that the educators' civic
beliefs were more liberal than those of the influential in both
districts.
Research results in the arena of decision making in school
organizations indicate that those persons higher on the administrative
ladder generally are considered both by themselves and by others as
having more influence and a greater sense of satisfaction in their
positions than do those employees on lower levels. Results from most
studies indicated the need for more involvement from individuals and
groups within the organization in order to develop more positive
feelings about the organization as well as about the person's own role
within the group.
Informal groups and associations were found to be significant in
many of the studies cited. The recognition of an involvement with
these groups in the decision making process aids the administrator in
enhancing the overall effectiveness of his or her organization.


83
asked to identify those persons whom they considered close friends
and with whom they had a relationship that extended beyond the
school day and duties associated with their jobs. Mutual choices
were those choices made that were reciprocated by the person
selected as a friend. Unilateral decisions or decisions made for
another influential and not reciprocated were also noted.
Figure 1 shows the mutual choices made among the influentials
in the school organization. The concentric circles indicate the
groupings of influentials as indicated by their responses on
Interview Guide B concerning their perceptions of their own influence
as well as that of the other indicated influentials. The inner
circle indicates those of slightly less influence; and the outside
circle indicates those persons who have the least influence within
the influential grouping.
Figure 1
Mutual Choices of Friendships Among Influentials


130
Diedrich, W. E. A study of the decision making role preferences of
selected Michigan board of education members and superintendents
of schools (Doctoral dissertation, University of Michigan, 1978).
Dissertation Abstracts International, 1978, 39(6-A), 3258.
(University Microfilms No. 78-22883)
Elmer, W. A study of the perception of the influential and a
description of their involvement in decision making in a
selected Louisiana parish (Doctoral dissertation, University of
Southern Mississippi, 1976). Dissertation Abstracts International,
1976, 37(04-A), 1904. (University Microfilms No. DCJ76-23003)
Fleming, J. N. An analysis and a comparison of the decision making
process in two school faculties (Doctoral dissertation, University
of Florida, 1963). Dissertation Abstracts International, 1963,
33(04-A), 5421. (University Microfilms No. 76-22343)
Frasher, J. M. Decision making processes in a selected metropolitan
school system (Doctoral dissertation, University of Florida, 1969).
Dissertation Abstracts International, 1970, 1L(03A), 957.
(University Microfilms No. 70-14877)
Friga, J. J. Interaction systems in selected urban elementary schools
(Doctoral dissertation, University of Florida, 1969). Dissertation
Abstracts International, 1970, 31j05-A), 2047. (University
Microfilms No. 70-20755)
Gourley, H. Patterns of leadership in decision making in a selected
county (Doctoral dissertation, University of Florida, 1962).
Pissertatioh Abstracts International, 1963, 2^(10), 3717.
(University Microfilms No. 63-02669)
Hillsborough County School Board. Job descriptions. Tampa, FL:
Hillsborough County School Board, 1978.
Hillsborough County School Board. Facts about Hillsborough County
schools. Tampa, FL: Hillsborough County School Board, 1980.
Huqhes, L. Know your power structure. American School Board Journal,
1967, 154, 33-35.
Hunter, F. Community power structure. Chapel Hill, NC: University
of North Carolina Press, 1953.
Iannaccone, L. The social system of an elementary school staff
(Doctoral dissertation, Columbia University, 1958). Dissertation
Abstracts International, 1959, 50.? 1802;,v (Uni vers i ty Mi crofi I ms No.
not available)
Iannaccone, L., & Lutz, F. Politics, power and policy: Governing of
school districts. Columbus, OH: Charles E. Merrill, 1970.


121
Decisions and Issues
Three decisions were identified as having district-wide
importance during the three years this study investigated.
Fourteen decisions were initially indicated as being important
by the initial interviewees. The decisions selected for indepth
study were implementation of PL 94-142, closing of low attendance
schools, and reestablishment of a smoking ban in the high schools.
The first decision was not viewed as a significant problem
area until the first year of implementation of PL 94-142. After
being recognized as causing difficulties for the school system,
complete authority was given to the Division of Instruction to
develop the project application for ensuing years. When one indivi
dual in that division who was dissatisfied with the decisions to
expend the monies involved attempted to enlist the support of the
superintendent, she was quickly referred back to the division
assistant superintendent.
The second decision, the closing of schools, was initially
"solved" by personnel in the Division of Administration. When an
eruption of public reaction occurred prior to and during the board
meeting, the chairperson of the school board requested that involved
groups of lay persons in the community work on possible recommenda
tions to the board. The involvement of these community groups caused
action to be delayed indefinitely.
The third decision area, banning smoking areas in high schools,
was brought up by the school board after sensitization by a speech
from a retiring assistant principal. The district office and


107
being allowed to continue operation than those that were being
closed. The group, however, agreed with the Assistant Superintendent
for Administration's overall recommendations and the Assistant Super
intendent for Support Services indicated he did not say anything
else about the situation. He also indicated that he felt much better
about the organization of this committee that could have some input
prior to the recommendations being made and felt the community would
be much more positive. No recommendations have yet been made by this
group.
Significant input was made for the resolution of this issue.
The Assistant Superintendent for Administration ignited this group
when he made the original recommendations that they felt were unfair
to the community. Newspaper editorials, especially in the black
community, were especially inflammatory. Members of minority organiza
tions involved themselves in the issue prior to and at the meeting.
A more moderate stance was taken, however, after the May meeting
when the school board chairperson recommended the establishment of
a new committee. She is known for her interest in good public
relations and successfully exerted positive effort to keep all groups
in communication with each other. The area directors, each represent
ing a different portion of the district, were involved at the grass
roots level in convincing people the school board was not a heartless
bureaucracy. Although those persons in attendance during the June
board meeting were apparently placated somewhat by the formation of
the committee, they definitely had a "wait and see" attitude about
the ultimate outcome.


69
of the Assistant Superintentent for Personnel, the Assistant
Superintendent for Support Services, and the Assistant Super
intendent for Vocational-Technical Educationall assistant
superintendents with shorter tenure than the other assistant super
intendents.
Table 12
Comparison of Final Rankings by Two Groups, One Using
Interview Guide A and the Other Using Interview Guide B
Influential
Position Rank
Interview Guide A
Rank
Interview Guide B
RS
Superintendent of Schools
1
1
PW
Asst. Supt., Administr.
2
5
SR
Ex. Dir., Educ. Assoc.
3
8
FF
Asst. Supt., Instruction
4
2
JL
Gen. Dir., ESE
5.5
4
MR
Chairperson, School Board
5.5
7
LW
Gen. Dir., Elementary Ed.
7
6
WH
Asst. Supt., Business
8.3
3
BH
School Board Member
8.3
9
LF
Secondary Principal
8.3
13
RS
Asst. Supt., Vocational
11.3
10
RC
Asst. Supt., Personnel
11.3
11
HC
Asst. Supt., Support Ser.
11.3
12


APPENDIX B
INTERVIEW GUIDE B
As part of our field work at the University of Florida, we are
making a study of leadership in this school district. To do this,
we need information from a number of persons like you who are
actively involved and informed about the educational affairs of
the district.
You have been identified in previous interviews as a leader in
this school district and as one who can help in our study. We
need your frank opinions about school district affairs and leader
ship. Your knowledge will be of great help to us in our study.
All information will be kept completely confidential and pseudo
names will be used in our report. Your personal opinions will be
revealed to no one else.
Your cooperation will be sincerely appreciated.
Personal Data
Age:
Total years in education
21-30
0-1
31-40
2-3
41-50
4-6
51-60
7-10
61-70
11 or more
137


I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion
it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and
is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for
the degree of Doctor of Education.
Michafe! 'f. Nimnery
Professor of Educational
Administration and Supervision
This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the
Department of Special Education in the College of Education and
to the Graduate Council, and was accepted as partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education.
March, 1981
Dean, Graduate School


m
to the action, wrote the superintendent, and explained the history
of the smoking issue. He then explained the reaction of the senior
high principals and their recommendations for punishment for
infractions of the new policy:
First offense: Two days of in-school suspension and a warning
to the student that the Surgeon General has determined that
cigarette smoking is dangerous to a student's health and
smoking will not be permitted on school grounds.
Second offense: Student will be placed on in-school suspen
sion for three days and warned again.
Third offense: Student will be suspended out of school for
a period of two days and warned that for each offense there
after the student will be suspended out of school for three
dyas.
Many people in the school system thought this issue was "much ado
about nothing" and, even though the superintendent supported his
principals' recommendation, they did not feel it was a significant
educational issue. In fact, two of the persons interviewed indicated
that it was good for issues such as these to arise periodically for
then the school board could feel they were not rubber-stamping all of
the superintendent's recommendations. These people estimated that
approximately 95 percent of the superintendent's recommendations are
accepted by the board without significant question. This was one of
the remaining 5 percent with which the board did not agree.
The Assistant Superintendent for Instruction was again the signifi
cant person representing the administration. He worked with all of


95
Public Law 94-142 is an outgrowth of federal legislation
assuring education in the least restrictive environment and the
guarantee of due process procedures as outlined in Public Law
93-380 passed by Congress in August, 1974. The passage of the 504
Amendments to Public Law 93-112, The Rehabilitation Act, which is
essentially civil rights legislation for the handicapped of all ages,
assured handicapped students the right to a free, appropriate public
education in the least restrictive environment, also added great clout
to PL 94-142.
The State of Florida had passed legislation in 1975 mandating
special education services for handicapped children which provided
for the provision of a free, appropriate education as well as for
appropriate notice to parents of actions contemplated or taken.
When the Federal Regulations were published, state officials were
notified that existing rules passed by the State Board of Education
were not sufficiently meeting the intent of the Federal Regulations
and would have to, therefore, be modified or rewritten. A statutory
change regarding the provision of due process to parents was also
necessary. The State Legislature balked during the 1977 session and
insisted they would not be manipulated by whim of the Federal
Government. Thus, PL 94-142 monies were denied to the districts in
Florida during the 1977 school year.
Many special education programs, already having to meet the
requirements of the.State Board of Education, had great problems in
finding sufficient funds and personnel in order to comply with state
directives. All groups involved in placement of children in programs,


Table 3
Employess in District Offices, Sites Directly Administered by
Assistant Superintendents and Staff, 1979-80
Division
No. of
District Staff
No. of Secretar.,
Technical, Aide,
Laborers; % of Total
No. of Admin.
Job Descrip.
Offices or
Major Subdivis.
Diff. Sites,
Offices,
Locations
Administration &
Operations
97
50
51%
31
18
22
Business &
Research
133
91
68%
18
21
3
Instruction
204
112
55%
65
19
10
Support Services
140
53
38%
31
23
16
Personnel
68
40
59%
13
4
3
Vocational,
Technical, Adult
144
50
35%
40
8
43
TOTAL
786
50
50%
198
81
97
CO


CHAPTER II
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
Introduction
Relevant portions of literature dealing with research related to
decision making and methodology of power structure and decision making
analysis are presented in this chapter. ERIC and Dissertation
Abstracts searches were conducted covering the period 1975 to the
present in order to obtain all appropriate citations available.
Research in Decision Making
Andes, Johns, and Kimbrough (1971) conducted a massive series of
studies of organizational structures of 82 of the larger school dis
tricts in the country. Seven were then selected for an indepth field
investigation in order to describe a decentralized type organization,
its patterns of staffing, and other characteristics. Other studies
that were associated with this research analyzed communication, issues,
decision making patterns, conflict within the organization, patterns
for dealing with students, and teacher militancy. Another goal was to
provide the basis for conceptualizing alternative structures for urban
school systems. The researchers found that there was great concern
about the complexity and size of urban school organizations and that
some of the stresses which reduce organizational effectiveness included
8


143
9. Which principals or other school administrators have the
most influence with the superintendent and/or the school board?
How do you explain their ability to influence these persons?
10. Which programs seem to be viewed positively by the members
of the school board and/or the superintendent? Why?


123
Limited sharing of leadership existed in the district, and,
except in one division, the assistant superintendent seemed to be
the prime decision maker of that division. This is similar to
what O'Hara (1978) found in a California community college. Each
assistant superintendent used his staff in different ways depending
upon his particular leadership style. Peach's (1979) work was also
supported with the finding that those persons higher on the adminis
trative ladder participated more in decision making in the district
school system.
Communication was greatly enhanced in the district by the
development of the Superintendent's Educational Management Group
which attacked the problem of inadequate communication often found
in large districts (Andes et al., 1971). This group had the effect
of making middle management feel more involved in decision making
as well as presenting a united front to the teaching staff, the
school board, and the community. The development of more effective
communication and an increased feeling of involvement in policy
making was reported in the district as a result of this organization.
Friga (1970), Melton (1973), Wiles (1970) and Zoglin (1980) all
found an increase in satisfaction with an increase in involvement
in decision making.
The district education organization exerted influence primarily
through its impact on the school board. The organization publicly
supported six of the seven members for election and, as the director
indicated, it was usually easier to go directly to friendly school
board members than to the superintendent or to the assistant


2
1966). Both formal and informal subsystems and the communication
systems of the power structure must be dealt with knowledgeably and
consistently in order to have positive influence on educational
decisions.
Although one may recognize the need for awareness of the political
and power structure of the community, discerning the political nature
of the bureaucracy in order to effectively work within it is essential.
Allocation of resources and appointment of persons to positions within
the bureaucracy are legitimate reasons for involvement with and under
standing of the bureaucratic nature of the school system (Kimbrough &
Nunnery, 1976). Kimbrough and Nunnery also suggest that how people
use bureaucracy to realize personal goals should be investigated
rather than the common fallacy of looking only at what bureaucracy
does to people. The relationship of a person to others in the organ
ization is the crucial factor to examine, not the absolute power of
the individual (Presthus, 1964). To be viable, such study must be
done within the framework of the total system of relationships within
that particular organization.
Much study has been made of the power structure of the community
(Dahl, 1961; Hunter, 1953; Johns & Kimbrough, 1968; Presthus, 1964).
Other researchers have concentrated on power structure within organiza
tions and were concerned essentially with the right to make decisions
and to initiate actions (Bennis, Berkowitz, Affinito, & Malone, 1958;
Rosen, Levinger, & Lippitt, 1961; Smith & Tannenbaum, 1965; Thompson,
1956).


24
Economic Life
A broad-based economy with many industrial organizations is
represented; and, also, a large percentage of the adult working
population are found in service, government, and transportation
job areas (see Table 2) (Chamber of Commerce, 1979). Tourism is
a major venture in the county and employees in the various service
areas make up a large part of the total working force in the
district.
Table 2
Employment Distribution
Job Area
Number of Employees
Percent of Total
Manufacturing
33,000
14.1
Contract Construction
15,400
6.6
Transportation, Communication
Utilities
16,600
7.1
Trade
64,200
27.5
Finance, Insurance,
Real Estate
15,700
6.8
Service
44,400
19.0
Government
44,000
18.9
TOTAL
233,300
100.0


11
Mendoza (1978) researched the relationship of role and decision
making interactions occurring between school superintendents and
subordinates in 36 Georgia school districts. He found the super
intendent and assistants viewed their interaction in the decision
making process differently. Each thought he had greater involvement
than the other. Those assistants with authoritarian superintendents
had fewer decision making opportunities. Centralized decision making
was acceptable if the decision was predictable. Permissive non
threatening environments are best for educational managers.
Chrystal (1977) investigated the decision making process occurring
in an eight member central office team in the Boston area and concluded
that politics is what education is all about and the politics of
education is covert, conducted as a secret rite. More attention should
be given to informal decision making processes. He felt the charismatic
superintendent is a politician first and an educator second. Profes
sional control over the budget of the school system is preferred over
public control. He also felt that federal and state-mandated programs
have led to the creation of a new patronage system.
Whipple (1979) studied the role of Michigan school board members
and superintendents in agenda construction and concluded that the
agenda development is important in superintendent/board relationships
and the board should especially be involved in the evaluation of
teachers, discipline, finance, and negotiations which are of utmost
importance to both the school board and to the superintendent.
The perceived effectiveness of interest groups in educational
decision-making was congruent with the opinions of Andes et al. (1971)


54
those issues studied. In order to effectively identify leaders
and groups who were influential as well as the significant decisions
in the school district, a cross-section of persons was chosen for the
initial interviews with Interview Guide A. A random sample from each
of the major segments of the district office, the school board, and
the principals' groups was made. Fifty-nine persons from the above-
mentioned groups were interviewed with the use of the initial interview
guide. From 7 to 43 percent of professional members of each group
participated in the interview sessions. Each person was interviewed
and responded to the questions indicated in that document.
Follow-Up Interviews
Interview Guide B was used in this study to interview those
persons designated as influential. It was also used in order to
determine their involvement with specific decisions made for the
district as well as their involvement in groups that are considered
powerful.
Persons designated as influential were determined to be those
persons who were selected by three or more of the initial interviewees
as being significant decision makers in the district school system.
Relative influence among designated leaders as well as their involve
ment in influential groups was also ascertained both by self-report
and report of other influentials.
Influential formal organizations were identified by those persons
responding to Interview Guide A. Further investigation of those named
as most influential was conducted in more depth during the second


25
From its earliest days, farming has been of utmost importance
to the county. Even today, the county is one of the state's most
diversified agricultural communities and ranks fourth in agricultural
production in the United States. Over $108,000,000 worth of farm
goods are produced annually and the county is noted for its citrus,
strawberries, beef cattle, ornamental horticulture, dairy farms, egg
production, and tropical fish production.
This area has shown significant growth in all areas of economic
life. Business leaders of this area predict continuing growth in the
county as well as in the chief city. All indicators point to a
continuing increase in growth in all areas of the district with even
more significant increases in the suburban and rural areas of the
district.
Government of the District and County Seat
The county is governed by a Board of County Commissioners. The
Hoard consists of one commissioner from each of five districts within
the county elected county-wide for a term of four years. The Board
meets weekly to conduct county business.
The major city in the county, which is also the county seat,
operates with a mayor-council form of government. The mayor is chief
administrator and is elected for a term of four years. The seven
city council persons form the legislative branch of city government and
are also elected for four year terms.
Concerns of the District
An analysis of major areas of significance in the district con
ducted every three years by the news media in the area identified 10


122
principals unilaterally opposed this move as did the two largest
newspapers in the area but the school board insisted upon rein
stating the rule. Informal contacts with board members by
administrators seemed to be relatively ineffective in this
situation. The chairperson of the school board, who initiated
this action 10 years ago, appeared to have much impact upon this
decision.
Issue activity did not show any significant interrelationships
among influentials with the exception of school closings which
primarily involved principals and the Division of Administration.
The Superintendent's Educational Management Group did unite behind
this division's recommendation against banning smoking areas but
left the PL 94-142 issue up to the staff from the Division of
Instruction. A close working relationship between two influentials
in that group did withstand pressure to dilute the General Director
of Exceptional Student Education's influence.
Conclusions
This urban school district is best described as a monopolistic
organization in which power in decision making flows downward with
each succeeding level having less impact on overall decisions than
the level above it. The superintendent had the final word on all
matters although he usually delegated most decisions to his assistant
superintendents. The assistant superintendents worked with the
directors and general directors in their divisions and developed major
recommendations impacting upon their departments.


43
Assistant principal for administration. This assistant
principal must hold a Rank II or higher certificate with administra
tion and supervision included and have completed three years of
successful teaching or administrative experience. This principal
has the primary responsibility of supervising and coordinating the
total school athletic program, issuing the daily bulletins, super
vising the maintenance of the school plant, assisting in the public
relations activities, assisting in the evaluation of teachers and
other staff, assisting in developing policies, assisting the deans
with unique disciplinary problems, assisting in interviewing and
recommending the employment of new staff, and other special duties
assigned by the principal.
Assistant principal for management. The assistant principal for
management is also required to hold a Rank II certificate with both
supervision and administration listed. Three years of full-time
successful work in the classroom or as an administrator are also
required. This administrator is responsible for supervising and
coordinating the Dean's Office and all reports from it-, supervising
and coordinating all student activities, clubs, etc. other than the
athletic activities; supervising and maintaining the school activities
calendar; coordinating committees and reports such as FTE, textbooks,
student lockers; personnel injuries; student handbook; assisting in
the public relations activities; interviewing new staff; and assuming
other special duties as requested by the principal.
Dean. The dean is a part of the administrative team within each
school and must hold a Rank II or higher certificate covering


45
assistant superintendents, the superintendent, and administrative
assistant are regular members. This group is considered by most
persons interviewed as the major policy determining group in the
entire system and was referred to as "the inner sanctum."
Superintendents Educational Management Group. This group,
usually referred to as SEMG, was established in March, 1977, for the
primary purpose of improving communication among members of the
administrative staff within the district and serving as an advisory
group for the superintendent. Stated objectives include:
1. To gain input into administrative decision making from repre
sentatives of the principals, assistant principals, deans, super
visors and director's groups.
2. To disseminate information about administrative decisions
to all members of the group.
3. To establish greater credibility for administrative decisions
among the members of the various groups.
4. To establish a total management team approach to the decision
making process.
5. To make recommendations to the superintendent for his con
sideration, and to take the recommendations he feels are valid to
the school board.
6. To develop a forum where common problems may be aired.
7. To arrive at management salary and fringe benefit considera
tions without adversary bargaining.
8. To develop appreciation for all divisions of the school
system (budgets, curriculum, facilities, administration, supervision,
etc.) and understand the interrelationships.


97
Suggestions for the expenditure of funds included greatly
increased psychological and social services, more district
Exceptional Student Education staff to aid in the meeting of all
legal requirements, special buses for the physically handicapped,
and specialized equipment for students. The Division members dis
cussed priorities and the ESE Director was asked by the Assistant
Superintedent for Instruction to develop the plan. Major expendi
tures the first year of the project were for a project director,
inservice education, special services for students, and some student
services personnel. These recommendations were sent to the Assistant
Superintendent for Instruction who recommended them to the Super
intendent. The school board passed the proposed plan unanimously.
When the allocation was made by the state in late 1978 for the
1978-79 school year, the county was awarded $1,030,070. The Director
of Student Services, who was not at all satisfied with her share of
the previous year's money, decided to exert some influence in order
to receive approximately one-fifth of the total funds for the Student
Services Program. She wrote an 18 page memorandum to the Assistant
Superintendent for Instruction in which she outlined her proposal for
funding a portion of her program for the next three years. She
estimated that 11 professional staff should be employed during 1978-79;
16 during 1979-80, and 13 during 1980-81. All but two of these 40
new staff personnel would then be primarily under her direction and
would require by 1980-81 approximately 75 percent of the total monies
unless the Congress increased the level of federal support.


I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion
it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation
and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation
for the degree of Doctor of Education.
Professor of Special Education
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion
it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation
and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation
for the degree of Doctor of Education.
Robert F.' Algozzine
Associate Professor of Special
Education
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion
it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation
and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation
for the degree of Doctor of Education.
Professor of Educational
Administration and Supervision
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion
it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation
and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation
for the degree of Doctor of Education.
John M. Nickens
Associate Professor of Educational
Administration and Supervision


65
Table 9
District/Statewide Influence Ranking of Identified Influential
Influential
Position
Weighted
Score
Rank
RS
Superintendent of Schools
91.00
1
FF
Asst. Supt., Instruction
75.00
2
JL
General Director, Excep. Student
66.66
3
WH
Asst. Supt., Business
50.00
4
LW
General Director, Elementary Ed.
25.00
5.5
RS
Asst. Supt., Vocational-Technical
25.00
5.5
MR
Chairperson, School Board
16.66
7.3
SR
Executive Director, Educ. Assoc.
16.66
7.3
RC
Asst. Supt., Personnel
16.66
7.3
- PW
Asst. Supt., Administration
8.33
10.5
HC
Asst. Supt., Support Services
8.33
10.5
BH
Board Member
0
12.5
LF
Principal, High School
0
12.5


103
against closing of their schools. Newspaper articles were written
by the largest papers in the district. The NAACP, Urban League,
Desegregation Committee, and others joined forces to convince the
school board not to take action and close the schools. None of
these groups had been involved in the original recommendation which
emanated from the Assistant Superintendent's office. This proposal
had been developed by his staff and submitted to the Superintendent's
Educational Management Group and then to the superintendent for
inclusion on the agenda for the next school board meeting. The school
board members themselves had little to do with the recommendations
until they were officially presented to the group.
Involvement of groups and influentials. The day of the school
board meeting, several articles appeared in local newspapers calling
for resistance of the black community to the closing of schools.
Blacks appeared before the board and complained about the desegregation
plan and its long-term impact on the black community. Joanna Jones,
a five-year member of the Biracial Committee said, "We don't control
the system. We have to do what we have done all of our lives. We
have to beg white folks" (Tampa Tribune, March 12, 1979). Others
pointed out that their children were bused 10 of their 12 years in
school while whites were only bused two of the 12. More schools
were being closed in the black than the white community and even those
that were open were not being maintained as adequately as those in
the white areas. Those white schools that were in poor condition were
renovated rather than closed as were those in the black area. The
black school board member interjected during the meeting, "Black


91
question be called again at the end of the meeting and case the
deciding vote against the same issue. The board appeared to give
much consideration to the feelings of the constituency and gave
those persons attending board meetings much opportunity to be
heard. Both applause and cat calls were usual responses to emotional
issues during these meetings.
Identification of Decisions and Issues
The identification of important decisions and issues was of
extreme importance to this study because it provided the framework
within which certain influential acted and exerted influence upon
the final resolution of that particular problem. The selected informants
identified 38 issues, problems, or decisions confronting the county
schools within the past three years or were anticipated as being
problems in the near future. Of these, 14 were indicated by three
or more persons as having some impact on the system or subpart of the
system (see Table 16).
The funding and requirements for implementing Public Law 94-142,
Education of the Handicapped, was mentioned by 23 persons, or 40 per
cent of the total interviewed. The closing of schools and the
resultant impact on the community, especially the black community
where most of the proposed schools to be closed were located, was the
second most often indicated problem with 24 percent of the persons
polled mentioning it. Salaries, both for instructional and non-instruc-
tional personnel, was mentioned as the third area of concern by 17
percent of those persons questioned. Compensatory educational program
ming and back-to-basics was indicated by 15 percent of those polled as


5
person who exercises influence over educational decisions, especially
in the district-wide areas of concern.
Informal organization. The human aspect of an organization;
the unofficial relationships and norms of the organization.
Issue. A controversy among groups within an educational setting
concerning educational affairs and decisions.
Power structure. The structural distribution of political
influence among individuals and groups in the school district, organiza
tion, or portion of the school district organization.
Power system. A group or groups of influentials who cooperate
or compete to exert influence in the decision making process.
Reputational technique. A technique originally developed by
Hunter (1953) of determining influential based on nominations by
others who perceive the nominees as being influential.
Role. A function performed by someone in a particular situation,
process, or operation (Webster's, 1964, p. 1968).
Justification of the Study
Extensive study has been invested in describing the community
power structure. There is need for more analysis of the use of power
within the administrative staff of school organizations. This study
was conducted to describe how administrative staff perceived the
decision making process and the issues involved in that process.
This study should be of use to the practicing educator by provid
ing a way of observing an educational organization and discerning both
the formal and informal processes that influence decision making within


39
offenders, vocational evaluation, Comprehensive Employment and
Training Program (CETA), occupational specialists, and vocational
supervisors for each of the vocational areas (see Table 4).
General director and directors. Each of the six major divisions
is_ further subdivided into specific programs headed by either a
general director or director. Persons filling either of these two
job classifications report directly to the assistant superintendent
of that division. General directors and directors are both 12 month
employees but salaries are approximately 7.6 percent higher for
general directors. General area directors are also classified as
general directors for salary purposes.
The designation of a particular person as a general director
rather than director appears to be a function both of the individual
who held the position at the time it was so designated and the desire
to have an intermediate step between the director and assistant
superintendent relative to salary. Longevity in a given job or within
the district administrative system is not rewarded directly by an
increase in salary. Only rank is so recognized with approximately
$1.73 per day for each increase in rank. Approximately 50 percent
of all persons designated as general directors or directors have
attained or are working on an advanced degree beyond the master's
level.
Directors or general directors are given the responsibility of
total coordination of their particular programs. They must coordinate
all services and activities within their designated areas and serve
as a member of their Division Team, both at meetings and at the
request of their assistant superintendent.


142
3.Generally speaking, what has been the role or the function
of the school board in major decisions during the past three years?
4.How much influence has the board had on decisions like the
ones we have just discussed?
5.Which of the members of the school board has the greatest
influence on district school affairs? Why do you believe that he/
she is so influential?
6.Give a typical example of how the superintendent works
with leaders in educational decisions.
7.Describe how the superintendent works with the school
board in order to influence them to support a particular issue.
8.Describe the relationship of the district office staff to
the superintendent and to school administrators. Which district
staff members seem to have easiest access to the superintendent?



42
of the school and is responsible for administering the policies of
the school board as directed by the superintendent and administrative
staff. The principal has the major responsibility of selecting,
with the assistance of the Assistant Superintendent of Personnel,
all teachers and to make recommendation for employment to the super
intendent. The principal has the responsibility for staff leadership
in the development of an effective instructional program. He or she
is the manager of the financial affairs of the school and supervisor
of the school plant.
Assistant principal for curriculum. The assistant principal for
curriculum must hold a Rank II or higher certificate with administra
tion and supervision indicated. This person must also have completed
three years of full-time successful experience as a teacher or
administrator. The responsibilities of this position include super
vising and coordinating the total program of studies for the school;
completing special reports for the district, state, or Southern
Association; supervising the securing of substitutes; maintaining
the school room use chart and organizational chart for the teaching
staff; supervising and approving requests for field trips; meeting
with advisory groups; and development a faculty handbook. Addition
ally, this individual is responsible for assisting in the public
relations arena with the principal;, assisting in the evaluation of
teachers, assisting the deans with unique disciplinary problems,
assisting with the interviewing and recommending of new staff, and
other duties the principal may assign.


81
a member were located in the county seat while others belonged to
the same organization in other towns in the district, e.g.,
Chambers of Commerce. He was considered a member of "the society
group."
The General Director of Exceptional Student Education was also
a member of many organizations. A long term resident of the county,
he had held many offices in the organizations to which he belonged.
His influence was felt by many to be in large part a product of his
being almost a "home-town boy" since he graduated from school in the
area and knew many of the influential in the city from boyhood.
His wife was a member of the Spanish community in the city and he
was considered influential both by the Anglo and Hispanic populations
The chairperson of the school board had also been a lifelong
resident of the area. She had been involved in many areas but had
been especially interested in the area of criminal justice for youth.
She was recognized statewide for her endeavors and was named as a
member of a state committee in criminal justice by the governor. She
was associated with the large military population in the area through
her husband who was a retired officer.
The high school principal was very involved in civic activities
and indicated that he felt it was essential for secondary principals
to become a part of the community served by their school. He had
many contacts in several of the communities in this county and
maintained membership in the Chambers of Commerce in three different
cities. His interest in his community was well known and he was
asked to serve on the committee investigating the local community
college.


60
Table 6
Persons Nominated by Three or More Persons As Being
Influential in the Decision Making Process
Influential Position Number of Times Rank
Selected
RS
Superintendent of Schools
41
1
.PW
Asst. Supt., Administration
27
2
SR
Executive Dir., BCEA
24
3
FF
Asst. Supt., Instruction
18
4
JL
Gen. Dir., Exceptional Students
10
5.5
MR
Chairperson, School Board
10
5.5
LW
Gen. Dir., Elementary Education
8
7
WH
Asst. Supt., Business
6
8.3
BH
Member, School Board
6
8.3
LF
Secondary Principal
6
8.3
RS
Asst. Supt., Vocational Education
4
11.3
RC
Asst. Supt., Personnel
4
11.3
HC
Asst. Supt., Support Services
4
11.3


104
people in the community have had so little with which to identify.
On the other hand, whites have had much with which to identify.
When the little the blacks have is removed and taken, they're left
almost without hope. They feel intimidated, threatened" (Tampa
Tribune, March 12, 1979). The school board, on the evening of
March 13, 1979, voted to close three of the six schools. The
chairperson asked at that time that the communities where schools
were being recommended to be closed to be involved in the decision
before it came to the school board for action. Local papers had
much comment on this decision.
During March and April of 1979, the Assistant Superintendent for
Administration met with his staff, area directors, and principals to
develop a plan that might be positively considered by the school
board in order to meet the needs of the students in small schools
as well as to save substantial funds that were being utilized to
operate inefficient schools.
After the basic recommendations were developed in the committees
within his division, the Assistant Superintendent took the projections
to the Assistant Superintendent's Weekly Meeting. At this time, he
enlisted the support of each individual within the group by showing
how the proposed moves would positively affect both the other's
divisions as well as the district as a whole. They approved and
the Superintendent's Educational Management Group was then addressed.
The same arguements were used with this committee.
On April 26, 1979, the Assistant Superintendent for Administra
tion addressed a letter to the superintendent asking for its


90
some notice and newspaper space. They also felt he did not compare
favorably with the former director who is now the mayor of the city
and was always attempting to get as much attention as possible in
order to appear to have the same impact as his predecessor.
The superintendent was seen as one of the most likely persons
to oppose projects if he did not feel they were extremely likely to
achieve passage by the school board. He was described as "politically
savvy" and used some board members as a sounding board prior to
approaching the board as a whole with a given proposal. Some of
those persons interviewed felt the superintendent would occasionally
present an item to the board that he knew would be rejected in order
to let the board feel they had ultimate control of the total school
situation. Everyone interviewed agreed, however, that no proposal
would reach the board if he did not agree with it. He had total
control of that aspect and few employees would attempt to make contact
with the board in direct opposition to his wishes.
The school board was also perceived as an important opponent of
some proposals. Most influential felt that most projects the
superintendent presented were very likely to pass with board approval.
The board was described as very unpredictable in its voting on
specific items. In fact, the influential indicated that no three
board members would ever be on the same side of several different
issues and some would change their minds on a given issue if it was
presented at two different times. In one meeting observed during the
course of this investigation, one board member cast the deciding vote
for an issue at the beginning of the meeting, then asked that the


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of
of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education
STAFF PERCEPTIONS OF THE INFLUENTIALS, ISSUES, AND
THE DECISION MAKING PROCESS IN A SCHOOL SYSTEM IN FLORIDA
By
Jean K. Douglass
March, 1981
Chairman: Charles Forgnone
Major Department: Special Education
The decision making process in an urban school district was
investigated using a combination of the decision analysis and
reputational methods. Two series of interviews were conducted with
administrative staff, school board members, and educational organiza
tion members to ascertain the influential in the district decision
making process, which formal and informal groups impinged upon the
decision making process in this urban school district, and what
important issues had confronted the district within the past three
years.
Results of the study identified 13 persons as influential, a
very small percentage of the total administrative staff in this system.
Most of the influential were men who had worked in this system for
over 15 years. Twenty-eight organizations were identified as having
vi


139
Extent f Influence of Leaders
In every organization, some people exercise greater influence
on the outcome of decisions than do others. For purposes of this
study, your assessment of the leaders as influential is needed.
To assist you, a list of persons believed to be leaders in the
district school system has been compiled from previous interviews.
Consider the list below and rate each person according to the scale
along the top. If you feel someone else's name should be added,
please do so at the bottom of the list.
A = Exceptionally strong district-wide influence
B = Strong district-wide influence
C = Strong special area and some district-wide influence
D = Some special area but little district-wide influence
E = Little special area or district-wide influence
Name
A
B
C
D
E
Additional Comments
1.
1
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.



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36
The Assistant Superintendent for Administration has 97 persons
who work in his office. Of these, 50 hold secretarial, clerk or
aide positions for a total of 51 percent of his total staff. Thirty-
one administrative job descriptions are given for staff in this
area indicating a wide diversity of tasks addressed, and there are
18 major functions or areas of expertise described. These staff are
located at 22 different sites within the district. Although this
division is next to last in total number of district staff members
employed by a given division, the job responsibilities of this
particular individual touch a significant number of other persons
not indicated in these statistics.
This assistant superintendent is given the responsibility of
coordinating and evaluating the activities of all principals in the
district;, "enhancing the effective performance" of each of the other
assistant superintendents and determining and recommending the number
and type of teachers to be employed each year. He also is reponsible
for coordinating all policy making; reviewing and reorganizing staff
duties and responsibilities, planning building priorities> disseminat
ing information from alj^ departments via a weekly newsletter; and
preparing the agenda and presiding over the District Principals'
Meeting. The assistant superintendent has direct administrative
control over all school plant planning and construction, grounds and
maintenance, school food services, pupil administrative and Affirmative
Action planning. This individual was also given the responsibility
of presiding over the weekly meetings of the Superintendent's
Educational Management Team when it was first initiated until, at the
end of the first year, members asked that the superintendent chair
the meetings.


105
submission to the board for their approval. In this letter, he
outlined procedures to be used with the board in order to keep them
apprised of the facilities available for housing students so they
would not be surprised when recommendations were made from the
assistant superintendent's staff. He responded to the public
request of the chairperson and requested that the board provide 30
minutes once a month to be reserved at the board work session so the
assistant superintendent could inform the board of the schools'
capacity, student stations, enrollment, programs within the schools,
boundaries, and the number of vacant rooms in each school. At this
time, no recommendations or conclusions would be given, but facts
and figures pertaining to the schools will be presented so that when
it comes time to evaluate closing schools, boundary changes, etc.,
the board will be familiar with the statistics pertaining to all
schools, and therefore have a more complete picture of the situation.
This was apparently discussed with the chairperson of the school board
who was a close personal friend of the assistant superintendent.
The Assistant Superintendent also requested that each of the
groups actively involved in fighting the previous recommendations be
invited to attend these sessions so that they would be cognizant
from the beginning of any facts and figures that might be presented.
He also recommended that parents of children in schools discussed
also be invited. He felt that by making such a presentation and
alerting all of the groups mentioned above they would not be accused
of not informing the public. On May 19, 1979, these suggestions were
adopted by the school board.


13
He found that the principal of the inner city school was more central
to the interaction system than either of the other two principals.
Although the principal was the central figure in the interaction
pattern, there was greater balance in interaction among the faculty
of the transitional school than was true of the other two schools.
The subsystems of the outer city school had greater interdependence
than did the subsystems in the inner city and transitional schools.
The interaction within the systems of the three schools studied tended
to focus upon the principals who were obviously in positions to
influence activities within the systems. Friga emphasized the need
to make concentrated effort to improve the principal's role in
planning and decision making. Greater teacher participation,
especially in the inner city schools where this situation poses the
most significant problem, should be developed.
Wiles (1970) developed a Decisional Practices Inventory with
which he demonstrated that principals and teachers have differing per
ceptions of desirable participation for both groups in decision making
Andes et al. (1971) felt that attention must be given to role differ
entiation in order to realize more effective participation of
principals and teachers in both planning and decision making.
Ushijima (1978) investigated the patterns of influence and
decision making in junior high school attendance areas in California
and found discernible power structures in each attendance area. He
also found that a significant relationship existed between formal and
informal power structures and extended to the area office and district
office depending upon the issue raised.


Printed or Typed phone number and email address of Copyright Holder/Licensee
Date of Signature
1/11.07


117
All held offices in both state or national groups and felt
membership was extremely important to them personally and profes
sionally. Political involvement was indicated by eight influential
and one was an officer in the local Democratic Party. There was
a wide range of community involvement indicated with the superintendent,
board chairperson, General Director of Exceptional Student Education,
and the high school principal most involved. Seven indicated very
strong church ties.
Strong personal friendship ties were not indicated by the majority
of the influential with each other. Only one mutual choice was made.
Professional friendship ties, on the other hand, were numerous with an
apparent grouping of "old-timers," except for the Assistant Super
intendent for Administration.
The most notable difference in rankings of influentials by the
two groups of persons interviewed, the initial interviewees and the
influentials, was for the Assistant Superintendent for Business and
the director of the educational association. Apparently, those
persons who work in the upper echelons of the adminstrative hierarchy
knew better the influence of the Business Office than did those
persons working within the hierarchy at positions of lesser influence.
The ranking of the director of the education association indicated
much the same situation. He was very vocal, his speeches and
comments were reported in the local papers and on television but
he was not seen as an integral part of the actual formal decision
making structure by those persons within the hierarchy. Those persons
within the bureaucracy may not admit that the teacher organization


94
In analyzing the information presented by each of the
informants, eight of the top 14 issues did not directly deal
with the education of students in the classroom. Only one of the
first six decisions mentioned was specifically oriented toward
classroom instruction, compensatory education programming.
The three decisions that were selected for indepth study were
Public Law 94-142 Funding and Implementation which was indicated
by the largest number of respondents (23); the closing of schools
which was selected as a significant problem by 24 percent of the
total group (14); and the reestablishment of a smoking ban on high
school campuses which was selected because it was an issue whose
resolution was reached while the investigator was visiting the
school system and was thus able to observe influential involvement
first hand.
PL 94-142--Education for the Handicapped
Background. Public Law 94-142 was passed by the United States
Congress and signed into law by President Gerald Ford on November 29,
1975. It was considered to be one of the landmark pieces of legisla
tion, not only of the 94th Congress but also in educational
legislation. This law guarantees the availability of special
education programming to handicapped children and youth, assures
fairness and appropriateness in decision making about providing
special education to handicapped children and youth, and establishes
clear management and auditing requirements and procedures regarding
special education at all levels of government in assuring that handi
capped students' rights are not abridged.


impact on decision making in the district. The group interviewed
indicated certain organizations as having more importance than did
the influentials when they were questioned about relative significance
of the different organizations. Informal groups did not appear to
exert much influence outside the official organization, but did
within the bureaucratic hierarchy.
Thirty-eight issues were identified as having had impact on the
system during the past three years. Fourteen of those decisions
were indicated by three or more persons as being particularly signifi
cant. The three reasons most often mentioned were investigated in
depth and disclosed influential involvement that varied dependent
upon the issue itself, scope of the decision, and involvement of the
school board and outside community groups.
vii