Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Wholeben, Brent E.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Leadership in Educational and Sport Organizations


Sexual harassment in education--Illinois; School employees--Attitudes--Illinois; Students--Illinois--Sexual behavior


The purpose of the study was to investigate existing perceptions among Illinois large unit school district personnel regarding sexual harassment behaviors. The study also examined sexual harassment policy effectiveness, observed cases, and the impact of such on the educational organization and the behaviors of school personnel. The study employed a causal-comparative design utilizing a questionnaire technique. A total of 3,732 questionnaires were sent out to Illinois Unit School District certified staff. Of those sent, 736 were returned from 8 school districts. Four (4) primary and thirteen (13) secondary research questions guided the research and addressed issues concerning sexual harassment in the school setting. The first research question addressed the perceptions of certified school personnel in regard to the behaviors that constitute sexual harassment, in addition to which gender would be perceived as the victim of these behaviors. Three types of sexual harassment were addressed: general, student-on-staff, and same-sex. The second research question addressed the satisfaction rate with school district sexual harassment policy. This satisfaction rate was analyzed and compared in terms of position, gender, and level of school (elementary/junior high/high school). The third research question examined what the most important sexual harassment policy elements were. These responses were then also analyzed in terms of position, gender, and level of school. The final research question investigated the behavioral changes that may occur as a result of the presence of sexual harassment in the school organization. As with the prior research questions, position, gender and level were variables in the analysis. The intent of these analyses was to find similarities and differences among comparison groups and determine variations in perceptions regarding sexual harassment. Data in the study were analyzed using a variety of statistical techniques. Binomial analysis provided definitiveness to the findings for research questions 2, 3, and 4. A multiple-response analysis was utilized for determining observed proportions of responses among a range of questionnaire choices. This type of analysis was particularly valuable for research questions 1 and 2. Chi-square analysis was utilized in research question 2 as well to find responses that were greater than and less than the expected. Statistical significance was set a priori at p < .05 for all analyses. The major findings of the study showed a considerable variation in perceptions of the definitions of the three types of harassment examined. Depending on which type was the focus, respondents altered their perceptions, even when the behaviors considered were exactly the same. In addition, there were numerous similarities within comparison groups regarding gender and victimization, and policy satisfaction rates. Last, respondents provided evidence of a direct effect on staff communications and the learning process when sexual harassment is present in the educational organization.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [234]-238).


[xv], 268 pages




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