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Support personnel in schools: characteristics and importance

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Purpose ‐ Despite the critical role of support personnel in education, the literature about their supervision has been less than informative. In an effort to provide additional guidance to school leaders seeking to improve the supervision of such personnel, the purpose of this paper is to examine and compare three distinct groups of support personnel: school custodians/janitors, school secretaries, and paraprofessionals in special education. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The paper begins with two analyses. One is that of the general importance of the role of support personnel in public schools in the USA. The other consists of a brief argument as to why the literature about the supervision of support personnel has not been overly informative. The paper proceeds with descriptions of three distinct support personnel groups. Findings ‐ The examination of three support personnel groups highlights the visibility of the school custodian/janitor, the multi-dimensional responsibilities of the school secretary, and the background of the paraprofessional in special education. Research limitations/implications ‐ A comparison of three distinct groups of support personnel has implications for their training, compensation and scheduling, and work design and supervision. Originality/value ‐ The paper content offers an information-rich and multi-faceted view of support personnel in schools, with implications for their overall supervision and the importance of their contribution to the organization.
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Keywords: Employees; Local management of schools; Schools; United States of America; Work design

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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