Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Personnel Commission administrators in merit system school districts: Conflict and leadership
by McMahon, Gail A., Ed.D., California State University, Fullerton, 2011, 104; 3472528
Abstract (Summary)

In 1935, the state of California implemented legislation that allowed for a merit system in public schools. Merit system legislation is a redistributive policy that takes some decision-making authority and control related to classified employment from local boards of education and school district administration and turns it over to a Personnel Commission. As a result of this legislation, school districts in California who have adopted the merit system must adhere to collective bargaining agreements and follow merit system legislation and many other mandates in addition to managing student learning and the educational program.

Personnel Commission administrators are responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the commission and must ensure that legislative mandates are followed while supporting the educational program. As a result, Personnel Commission administrators may experience conflict. This study explored how administrators of Personnel Commissions manage conflict while upholding merit system principles and supporting the educational program.

Data were collected by sending a questionnaire to 94 Personnel Commission administrators in California, conducting semi-structured interviews with two Personnel Commission administrators, and reviewing documents within the environments in which the semi-structured interviews occurred. Data gathered included demographics, types of conflicts experienced by Personnel Commission administrators, tools that Personnel Commission administrators employ to resolve the conflict, and their perceptions of their role in supporting the educational program.

Respondents indicated the most common types of conflict experienced by Personnel Commission administrators concern a lack flexibility in selection choices, the "rule of three," and eligibility lists, while the most common tools used to manage conflict were communication and creativity. The findings also indicated that most Personnel Commission administrators support the educational program by working with colleagues, maintaining focus on the educational program, and providing support through technical responsibilities.

Recommendations for public policy included clarifying the intent and purpose of certain relevant provisions within the California Education Code. Recommendations for educational practice include Personnel Commission administrators' using more than one tool to manage conflict and recognizing the need not only to focus on their immediate technical responsibilities but also to consider the educational program and student learning.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Oliver, Ron
School: California State University, Fullerton
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 72/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Education Policy, School administration
Keywords: California, Merit systems, Personnel Commissions, School districts
Publication Number: 3472528
ISBN: 978-1-124-85925-5
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