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Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name



Educational Leadership and Policy

First Advisor

Roger DeMont


Policy-making is a complex process that occurs both at macro and micro levels in government, business, and education bureaucracies. The development of policies on a specific topic is not a guarantee that those policies will be implemented. The battle regarding the place of religious expression in public schools has been raging for many years. Although the Supreme Court has rendered many decisions with the intent to clarify religious expression issues, concerns over what is or is not permissible remains a source of conflict. This research examined the extent to which superintendents of noncharter, public school districts in nine counties located in southeast Michigan had developed a religious expression policy. Perceptions of 145 superintendents of the districts were examined regarding the need for such policy, how their policies compare to the Davis model and if there was a difference in the perceptions between superintendents' whose districts were located in urban/suburban or rural areas. Detroit and Inkster school districts were excluded due to their unique governance structure. A total of 50 superintendents participated in the study for a response rate of 34.5%. A nonexperimental, descriptive study was used to examine the extent to which the school districts had developed policies on religious expression and respondents' perceptions of the need for this type of policy. Findings indicate that the majority of superintendents (70%) reported their districts had not developed a religious expression policy, with 30% indicating their districts had adopted a policy. Superintendents of districts with policies on religious expression had more positive perceptions of the need for a policy than those in districts without a policy. While adopted policies contained many of the recommended components suggested by the Davis model, none included all of them. Where superintendents of districts with policies on religious expression had more positive perceptions regarding a need for such policy, location of districts in urban, suburban or rural areas did not appear to be a factor in their decisions to develop this type of policy.

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