Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Summers, Kelly H.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations (LEPF)


The idea that K-12 building leaders should be legally literate in the elements which encapsulate their professional obligations is widely accepted. The degree, however, in which this concept holds true in contemporary systems of education represents an opportunity for further research. While a concrete definition of legal literacy remains up for debate, it has been conceptualized for the better part of half a century when discussions began on its fundamental need (Dunklee & Shoop, 1986). This need has been exacerbated in recent years as we continue to live in an increasingly litigious society. This dissertation examines legal literacy K-12 building level administrators through the lens of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987 (42 U.S.C. §11431 et seq.) and is organized into three bodies of work.Paper one provides an in-depth review of literature on legal literacy on K-12 systems of education in the United States. This includes, but is not limited to its history, conceptualization over time and current state. This paper will also include a historical review of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987 (42 U.S.C. §11431 et seq.). This review will identify, to a certain degree of specificity, the McKinney-Vento Act’s overall charge and purpose, the evolution of the Act in regards to what it addresses, as well as some of its perceived shortcomings. Finally, paper one will intertwine both McKinney-Vento and the concept of legal literacy through the lens of Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy in an effort to understand how this theory can improve the legal literacy of The Act. Paper two will use the information gleaned from paper one to continue with a study examining legal literacy and its impact on local education agency McKinney-Vento program effectiveness. In this multi-part study, we will first determine the degree of proficiency in which K-12 building administrators understand The Act. This is followed by a measurement of an LEA’s program effectiveness, using ISBE’s Monitoring Tool as a template. Finally, the study will examine the relationship between administrator characteristics, legal literacy and program effectiveness. Paper three uses the data collected in this study to determine potential follow-up on increasing legal literacy of K-12 building level administrators. By examining the logical next steps, we can take the first steps in ensuring that all district and building level administrators are equipped with the knowledge skills and abilities to support one of our most vulnerable populations, McKinney-vento eligible youth. It is my belief that through the execution of a high-quality professional learning program, such as an Illinois Administrator Academy, participants will gain the knowledge, skills and abilities to support this student group.


101 pages




Northern Illinois University

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