Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Major Professor

Carol Mullen, Ph.D.


Ethnography, More research, Safe environment, Awareness, Prevention


The purpose of this research study was to explore what public school principals know and understand about educator sexual misconduct. This project attempted to provide a clearer picture of how administrators perceived and performed their leadership role as moral keeper of the school. In examining the literature, the researcher determined that there is a paucity of information concerning educator sexual misconduct.To accomplish the goals of this research project, the investigator paid particular attention to the study, Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature, prepared by Shakeshaft in 2004 for the U.S. Department of Education. Insights afforded by Shakeshaft's study guided the construction of a field-based investigation focusing on four elementary school principals, three middle school principals, and three high school principals within a large county district located in the western region of Central Florida.The researcher sought to investigate the language the school district and its principals use to define educator sexual misconduct and what administrators understand and know about the issue and their district policy, what they see as their legal responsibility, and what they would do should such an incidence occur at their site. In addition, the researcher explored state-level legislation that may affect district policy, while also investigating school-based programs for administrators, teachers, parents, and children regarding educator sexual misconduct.Throughout the interviews, principals indicated that it was their responsibility to create a safe and caring learning environment for all of their students as well as for the adults employed on their campus. School leaders reported that it was their job to be able to recognize inappropriate behavior and to understand that perceptions among students and educators may differ. All of the study's respondents followed their school district's anti-misconduct policy and although school leaders are not involved in the development of such guidelines, they are responsible for enforcing and disseminating said policies. Administrators have been trained to contact their district office immediately if an incidence of sexual misconduct occurs and feel they are obligated to investigate an allegation while protecting the student in addition to the accused perpetrator.There is no training for parents on how to keep their children safe from offenders, and education for students is lacking as well. However, administrators, faculty, and staff are required to complete a Code of Ethics inservice offered through the county and sponsored by the state of Florida. Administrators suggested that it would be beneficial for the K-12 guidance arena to incorporate awareness, teaching students skills so that they do not become potential victims.