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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Dennis Brennan

First Committee Member

Michael Elium

Second Committee Member

Antonio Serna

Third Committee Member

Louis Wildman


The construction and opening of a new school adds a new dimension to the principal's role. The purpose of this study was to describe the duties and responsibilities of a principal opening a newly constructed school, during the year preceding the opening of the school, and during the first year of occupancy in that school. The study was enriched by interviews with seven principals that opened new schools in the Central Valley of California. Personal reflections during interviews with principals were recorded, transcribed, and along with documents offered by elementary and middle school principals, analyzed for themes. The results of this study found that the attributes and characteristics of a successful principal opening a new elementary or middle school were very similar to the attributes and qualities of a successful principal of an existing school or of successful leaders of any organization, in general. The need for strong interpersonal skills, a clear vision, strong organizational and problem solving skills, a broad professional knowledge, and flexibility were required for success. The difference in possessing these attributes and characteristics appeared to be the emphasis placed on each one when it was manifested. Five themes that emerged from this case study were parental issues, construction or site building issues, staffing issues, school organization issues, and time management issues. Each of these issues required certain skills or traits on the part of the principal in order to be successful in opening a new school. The results of this study may be of interest to principals named to open a new school, assist in the selection of principals of new schools, and offer guidance regarding the best time to hire principals of schools under construction.





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