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ERIC Number: EJ1068934
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: N/A
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0145-9635
Changing Horses in Midstream: The Dangers of Unplanned Head Transitions
Quinby, Lee
Independent School, v74 n3 Spr 2015
Quick leadership transitions may succeed in other industries, but they don't usually work in the "business of relationships" we call school. Boards that respond to a solvable problem by firing the head may believe that action is necessary and good for the school. In truth, these abrupt changes almost always hurt schools, with devastating effects on many people's lives. Here Lee Quinby is referring to the all-too-common situation in which a head of school becomes the scapegoat for problems that could have been avoided or resolved with better communication and collaboration. In these situations, trustees often discover that a messy head transition adds complex new challenges to the issues behind the original rift between head and board. In particular, the rash decision to fire a head halts institutional momentum and generates constituent anxiety that weakens the school. This article describes the damage that can result from abrupt or poorly managed changes in school leadership. Quinby's analysis of the circumstances behind these events includes examples from one school that closed after dismissing the head in midyear and from two others that found creative solutions to avoid an unplanned head transition. Two other points will complete the picture. Quinby describes a couple of trends that often create significant tension in board-head relationships. Then he notes the exceptional cases where trust in leadership is so low that an unplanned head transition is appropriate.
National Association of Independent Schools. 1620 L Street NW Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 800-793-6701; Tel: 202-973-9700; Fax: 202-973-9790; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A