Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Russell F. West

Committee Members

Elizabeth Ralston, Nancy Dishner, Ronald A. Lindahl


The purpose of this study was to examine the issues that principals face in making the decision or recommendation to bring about the involuntary separation of non-tenured teachers. I was concerned with identifying the emotions, feelings, conflicts, and misgivings that principals experience during this process. Related concerns were identified. They included the issues of principals using professionally ethical ways to encourage or coach teachers to resign prior to dismissal, dealing with "lame duck" teachers between notification and the end of the school year, and writing positive letters of recommendation for teachers they have decided not to renew. These questions were addressed through questionnaires and in-depth interviews with 18 principals from the state of Tennessee who had made recommendations to involuntarily separate non-tenured teachers from their school systems.

Several themes emerged from the data and the following conclusions were reached: (1) teachers were not recommended for renewal primarily as a result of concerns about discipline, inappropriate behavior, and professionalism; (2) principals were generally able to frame their decisions in context with their vision for the school; (3) directors of school systems were generally supportive of principals making personnel decisions; (4) personnel decisions frequently involved political considerations; (5) these decisions caused stress, anxiety, and emotional concerns for the principals; (6) the state model for teacher evaluation was generally considered as being inconsequential while making personnel decisions; (7) few problems were encountered from "lame duck" teachers; (8) principals frequently encouraged teachers to resign prior to taking formal action to not renew them; (9) positive or benign letters of recommendation were frequently written for teachers who were not rehired; (10) a shortage of teachers has resulted in the hiring of non-renewed teachers by other school systems.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.