Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Education Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Wayne Lewis


Children raised by their grandparents are a steadily growing demographic in schools throughout the United States. When parents are unable to care for their children, grandparents sometimes assume the role of primary caregiver. This is especially true when they are faced with the threat of placing their grandchildren in the foster care system. More often than not, these grandparents are not adequately prepared for the challenges of raising children who have lost their parent through death, drug abuse or incarceration and few resources exist to guide elementary school principals to engage this demographic. Regardless of the growing numbers of caregiving grandparents there exists a dearth of research and literature to guide school leaders in effectively engaging these grandparents in school involvement.

The purpose of this study was to understand principals’ experiences with grandparents raising grandchildren (GRG), to discover grandparent’s experiences and perspectives on their own experiences in their grandchildren’s schools, and finally, construct theory on how elementary principals create and nurture positive and productive relationships with grandparents raising grandchildren. Analysis of date contributed to the development of propositions that reflect study findings. These propositions contributed to the development of a framework toward theory: Although principals were cognizant of the challenges GRG face, this knowledge did not influence their leadership. As a result, their leadership practices created school environments in which GRGs were effectively engaged in two-way communication but limited decision-making. Furthermore, the schools did not provide a bridge to resources to meet many of the challenges GRG and their families faced.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)