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Although principals generally come up through the ranks as teachers, some school districts are looking outside the education community for prospective principals.

Deborah McGriff, superintendent of schools in Detroit, has opened principal applications to business and community leaders with at least three years of experience as managers.

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Hiring such a principal would require a waiver from the Michigan Board of Education.

The board's current guidelines require Detroit principals to have a teaching certificate, a master's degree, and at least two years of experience as an assistant principal.

Jack Bittle, executive director of the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals, warns that the new plan could cause an "uprising by teachers" who wouldn't appreciate being evaluated by someone who has never taught in the classroom.

New Jersey pioneered an alternative route for principal certification in 1990. Candidates are required to have a master's degree in a leadership field and must pass a state exam. But the state has yet to certify a candidate under this alternative route.

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