February 02, 2017

Dissertation highlight: Jon Pede, EdD ’15

Morals, Values, and Ethics: Their Impact on the Decisions of the School Principal

Morals, Values, and Ethics: Their Impact on the Decisions of the School Principal


The purpose of this grounded theory qualitative study is to examine how principals in a large suburban school district in the Northwest United States, define their educational ethical philosophy and the role of their own morals and values in the development of this philosophy. It will also explore what role their ethical personal morals and values affect their ethical philosophy within their leadership through the daily decisions they make and how the role of ethics by principals are situated within the scope of the ethics of justice, care, critique, community, and profession based upon their decision-making as defined by Shaprio (2006), Shapiro & Stefkovich (2011), and Shapiro & Gross (2013).

Today, school structures are increasingly more complex and as a result pressures on principals to lead ethically is a key factor for student achievement outcome (Shapiro & Stefkovich, 2011). Growing demands in educational reform are creating increased uncertainty of leadership direction within the role of the school principal (Garrett-Staib & Maniger, 2011). These ethical conflicts dramatically affect decision-making by principals, which may ultimately detrimentally affect the lives of students in our educational system. This may be a result of principals making decisions based upon their own morals and values, conflicting directly with actual student need.

Findings in this particular study include at least thirty-eight identified values and thirty-six identified morals with little commonality between the principals interviewed. These findings in this study evoke a strong indication of the influence personal morals and values on the role of school principal. These findings also add to the existent literature on the role of morals, values and ethics of school principals by focusing on their unique and personal foundations and the possible influences these experiences have on the development of the ethical philosophy within each school principal.