Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Curriculum & Instruction/Literacy Studies

Committee Chair

Paul E. Chapman.


Public school principals must be prepared to apply knowledge of school law in a variety of situations. An electronic survey examined West Virginia principals' knowledge and application of school law in five areas: separation of church-state, faculty issues, special education, student issues and tort liability. The study extended previous school law survey research of Brabrand (2003), Littleton, Hiram and Styron (2001), Power (2007) and Schlosser (2006), and utilized adapted or actual survey items from those studies with additional items constructed by the researcher. The purpose of the study was to determine if a relationship existed among West Virginia principals' ability to accurately answer school law questions, given application scenarios and fact-based statements, compared with seven selected independent variables: programmatic level of the school; experience as a teacher; experience as an administrator; type of credentialing program; type of school law course taken; number of school law courses taken; and reported pedagogical construct of course delivery. Open-ended questions allowed principals to list likes/dislikes of university level school law coursework, recommendations for university preparation, recommendations for professional development, and areas of school law not included in the survey. A quantitative causal comparative research design utilized nonparametric measures to analyze quantitative data. Qualitative data was categorized and reported. The study identified six statistically significant differences. Principals' recommendations for university credentialing programs and professional development indicated a compelling need to include coursework and ongoing professional development in knowledge and application of special education law.