Principal (school)


Principal (school)

Principal or Head of School is the title of the chief administrator of an elementary school, middle school, or high school in some English-speaking countries, including the United States and Australia. Public schools in the United States generally use the title Principal whereas private schools in the United States generally use the title Head of School. In other English-speaking countries, the terms headteacher/headmaster/headmistress are used. Books and documents relating to the early days of public education in the United States show that the title was originally Principal Teacher.

In the United States, the term Head of School has largely replaced Headmaster or Headmistress at schools where gender is not significant to the position.

In 1999 there were about 129,000 "principals" in the United States. [http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2002/2002130.pdf]

In many Australian schools, a principal is the head administrator of a school who has been appointed to her/his position by the school board, superintendent, or other body. The principal, often in conjunction with the school board, makes the executive decisions that govern the school, as well as having the authority over the employment (and in some cases firing) of teachers. The principal is often the chief disciplinarian of the students. In many US schools, however, student discipline is the vice-principal's responsibility, and broader school decisions are the duty of the principal.

In larger schools the principal is assisted by one or more vice-principals, assistant principals, or deputy principals. Their position is secondary to the principal with regard to school governance. Assistant principals generally perform specific duties such as handling student discipline or curriculum, whereas the principal has the ultimate responsibility for the school as a whole.


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