Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Kofi Lomotey


This study examines the relationship of the high school principal and school climate with regard to special education. Perceptions of principals and general and special education teachers regarding school climate were measured by the Organizational Climate Description Questionnaire-Rutgers Secondary (OCDQ-RS) (Hoy, Tarter and Kottkamp, 1991). Perceptions of principal behaviors with regard to special education were measured by the Special Education Principal Behavior Profile (SEPBP), developed as a portion of this study. Findings suggested that principals and special education teachers have significantly different perceptions of school climate. Principal behaviors related to special education which were moderately correlated with the openness factor of school climate on the OCDQ-RS include making programmatic changes to meet the needs of disabled students, providing special education students with an opportunity to schedule general education classes, interacting with disabled students, and enforcing the laws and regulations and supervising the IEP process. Other principal behaviors include assisting disabled students and special education classes. Issues related to hiring practices were also identified. The perceptions of special education teachers and principals differed significantly in six areas. These include supervising the IEP process, reviewing IEP records and advising staff of special education laws and regulations. Principals and special education teachers also differed in their perceptions regarding equal access to school resources, reviewing and revising school goals, and that students with disabilities were included in goals for the school. Case studies were conducted on two high schools that received paired dichotomous scores on the OCDQ-RS and the SEPBP. Those findings indicated that both principals were minimally involved in special education programs. Responsibilities involving special education were delegated to a department head and/or an assistant principal. Supportive principal behaviors, consistency in staff, and student integration in the school and the community were primary contributors to the success or lack of success experienced by students and teachers.