Public high school principals' expectations for clergy in fostering working relationships between schools and churches
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This study analyzed public high school principals' expectations (attitudes and actions) for clergy in fostering working relationships between schools and churches. The purpose, legitimacy, and parameters of the present study are introduced. Next, theological presuppositions and leadership and education assumptions are delineated and discussed. Two key theological concepts relative to the current study are presented: Christ in community and clergy in community. Christ in community calls for clergy in community. The current climate of religion in schools as established by the courts is also discussed. Matters of research design are explained: delimitations of the study, research population, limitations of generalization, instrumentation. Interviews were conducted with a purposely sampling of seven public high school principals in Kentucky. Fifteen attitudes and behaviors were identified from interviews. A survey instrument was formulated based on these reported attitudes and behaviors and disseminated to Kentucky public high school principals. From survey results, predominant attitudes and behaviors were identified. Predominant attitudes were "Accommodating" and "Partner," fostering attitudes in building working relationships between principals and clergy. "Violating Parameters" represents the one predominant behavior, a hindering behavior in building working relationships between principals and clergy. Among the study participants, these predominant attitudes and one predominant behavior indicate non-opposition among principals to clergy presence on school campuses but also nonapproval of carte blanche by clergy. Research implications in light of findings are discussed. First, public school leaders exhibit some sensitivity to church and state separation issues. Second, public school leaders express a desire for clergy assistance in the public school context. Last, public high principals educate clergy on a dual concept: middle ground can be found relative to clergy presence on campus; clergy must function within the parameters of this negotiated middle ground. Certain research applications for Christian leaders are suggested. First, prioritize and practice open dialogue with school principals. Second, lead with a learner heart. Third, consider context but always carry on with care. Fourth, look for common and middle ground with school leaders. Fifth, a Christian leader gains voice and value in the public school context through his words and ways with school leaders. Sixth, consider a love response over a legal one. Seventh, lead the life of love before others. Last, show gratitude for school leaders. Study implications and applications represent a description of perceptions of study participants and not a definitive description and prescription relative to the total research population.