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)


In almost 60 years, the requirements of educators to be knowledgeable about the law have barely changed. The concept of legal literacy first appeared in educational research in 1963 by Nolte & Linn. Their original work recommended that state legislatures and boards of education mandate legal coursework as part of every teacher certification program (Nolte & Linn, 1963). Forty-five years later, Gadja (2008) researched all 50 states, and only one required a law class as part of their teacher preparation programs. The most current research indicates that teachers still have little knowledge of educational law (Summers et al., 2021).

This dissertation examines the legal literacy of educators and law classes required for educator preparation programs. In addition, an in-service professional development module was created using adult learning and self-efficacy theory and, finally, an evaluation model for the professional development units is also presented. The dissertation is organized into three separate papers. Paper 1 is a review of research on the legal literacy of teachers, which is then compared to the legal literacy of student services personnel including counselors, social workers, and school psychologists. Paper 2 examines one of the potential causes of the lack of legal literacy in educators identified in Paper 1 by providing an analysis of the educational law courses required of educators to become licensed in the United States Appellate Circuit Courts 2 and 6. Paper 3 provides an outline of proactive professional learning for public school districts to implement in order to support legal literacy in all educators through meaningful professional development as well as a professional development evaluation model.


118 pages




Northern Illinois University

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