This study's purpose was to investigate new site administrators' perceptions of the term community involvement, of their role to engage the local community members as partners in their school, their preparation and support to work with their communities, and their challenges on-the-job with community engagement. This study also examined new site administrators' perceptions and needs to better understand what tools are necessary to help them create thriving community partnerships. Thirty new site administrators across 4 counties of Southern California participated in a semi-structured 45-minute interview. All were employed less than 4 years and represented the gender, age and ethnic diversity of these counties. These individuals initially responded that parents were the community, not noting businesses, churches, health and the many other entities that surround and should be involved in school life. Each stated in some fashion that the role of the site administrator was to interface with the community beyond the site faculty and staff. All perceived that their academic preparation lacked any knowledge and skills to work with parents and the community although that is 1 of 6 required components for an administrative license in California. In addition, none indicated formal on-the-job professional development opportunities; 2 in the same district mentioned superintendent support of community involvement. The first year administrators shared their sense of feeling overwhelmed in their new leadership position for a school staff and the myriad of policies/procedures. New site administrators in their second--fourth years commented on the struggle to find time to deal with community partnerships, the lack of district support, and limitations created by policies/procedures. The respondents expressed interest in working with community groups, noting the many benefits to the school. All suggested ways that school districts, counties, colleges, department of education, professional associations, accrediting agencies, and policymakers could provide required training in the knowledge and skills to develop sustaining community partnerships.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Educational leadership, administration, and policy; Community and school -- California; School administrators

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Hiatt-Michael, Diana B.;