Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership


The perceptions of North Dakota elementary principals about ethics and ethical decisions in the workplace were examined in the light of a similar national study. The purpose of the study was to analyze the perceptions of elementary principals of North Dakota to develop a clearer view of what would be considered ethical behaviors and ethical concerns among North Dakota elementary principals. The cumulative perceptions helped clarify the general consensus regarding ethical standards for principals in North Dakota schools. A secondary purpose was to disseminate the results of this analysis in order to help elementary principals in North Dakota in their decision-making.

The elementary principals of North Dakota were surveyed by means of both specific and open questions adapted from a national survey instrument (Keough 1992). Follow-up interviews were conducted by telephone with a randomly selected subset of respondents. Of 172 eligible elementary principals in North Dakota, 129 sent responses. The analysis, using Chi-square, compared responses of participants to fifty ethical questions about the amount of time spent as principal, length of time in their current position, rural-urban location, gender, age, and years of experience as principal.

Findings of the survey indicated perceived ethical standards in matters covered by the survey. Strong ethical standards existed in the following areas: opposing employment of friends and relatives of school board members and principals, permitting students to participate in decision-making about those things in the school that affected them, and accepting gifts or permitting gifts to influence decision-making. Clear ethical standards did not exist in the following areas: permitting parents to choose the school they desire their child to attend and using VCR tapes with school classes in which the payment was for personal use but not for public (including school) use.

In general, the findings of the survey were parallel to the findings from the national survey. Sometimes the weightings were a little different. Even in the two instances where the majority differed, the percentage differences were not substantial.