This book outlines and explains the requirements of special education law as it applies to regular and special education. It tackles the difficult and sometimes complicated issues of inclusion, student discipline, IEP development, transitioning, and working with parents. Its strength is presenting special education law in easy-to-understand language and its use of best practices in implementing the law. Inclusion Basics; Working with Parents and Parent Rights; Due Process Hearings, Mediation, and Complaints; Identification and Evaluation of Students; Individualized Education Programs; Placement; Preschool and Infant and Toddler Programs; Secondary School Considerations; Discipline; Student Relationships; Staff Relationships and Staffing Patterns; Budget and Funding; Autism; Emotional Disturbance/Behavior Disorders (EBD); Mental Retardation/Mental Disabilities (MD); Specific Learning Disability (LD); Orthopedic Impairment/Physical Disabilities; Speech or Language Impairment; Other Health Impairment (OHI); and Low Incidence Disabilities.
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Larry D. Bartlett is a professor and departmental executive officer in the Division of Educational Policy and Leadership Studies at The University of Iowa. He is an administrative law judge for special education hearings in Iowa and for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, United States Department of Interior. Previously, he was the legal consultant to the Iowa Department of Public Instruction and a high school social studies department chair. He currently teaches courses on education law and the administration of special education programs.
Greg R. Weisenstein is dean of the College of Education, Health and Human Development at Montana State University. Previously, he has served as dean of the School of Education at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs; associate dean for research and professor of education at Clemson University; coordinator of Vocational and Secondary Special Education Programs at the University of Washington; a member of the President's Committee on Employment of the People with Disabilities; and international president of the Council for Exceptional Children's Division on Career Development.
Susan Etscheidt is an associate professor of special education at the University of Northern Iowa and the coordinator of Programs for Children with Behavioral Disorders K-6. She teaches courses in the area of behavioral disorders, behavior management, and special education law and policy. In addition to her involvement in the teacher preparation program at UNI, Dr. Etscheidt is an administrative law judge for special education hearings in Iowa.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Nearly 25 years ago, the Congress and president of the United States declared the public policy of this nation to be one of access to public education for all children. Only when the educational needs of a child with disabilities cannot be appropriately met with peers in a public school educational setting may the child be educated in alternative settings. Even segregated settings must provide for meaningful interaction with typical peers.
This enunciation of public policy has resulted in a degree of tension between some educators who would exclude those students who present challenges to their traditional teaching methods and those educators, who in the absence of a justifiable educational reason, disavow the exclusion of children from an educational setting with their peers. This tension is most easily identified in the outworn and legally questionable concept of "mainstreaming." Although the laws of the nation and most states require that students with disabilities be educated in regular education settings "to the maximum extent appropriate," a contrary practice was established. It recognized a "two box" model of regular education and special education, in which both seldom occurred in the same place at the same time. Instead, under the mainstreaming concept, it was expected that children with disabilities would be educated with peers without disabilities only when they could exhibit the proper conduct and could acquire an academic level commensurate with their peers. In the minds of many educators, students with disabilities were expected to "earn" their way into a regular class setting.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, after 15 years under the national legislation, court interpretations suddenly collided with educators' complacent thinking. The courts ruled that no matter what the concept was called, the process had to be revised. Instead of a child with disabilities having to earn the right to be in a classroom with peers, all considerations of child placement were to begin with the child being placed in the regular class or activity setting. Only when the regular school setting was deemed not appropriate, for an educationally justifiable reason, could an education for the child even be considered in a special setting.
No court interpretation or administrative agency interpretation of special education law has ever found that "full inclusion" (all children with disabilities educated in the regular education classroom they would attend if not disabled) is required. Although the authors of this book salute those who attempt full inclusion, they do not endorse it in its strictest sense as an educationally viable concept. There are some students with disabilities whose needs are such that their presence in a regular class or activity setting is not educationally justifiable or appropriate.
The current approach of presuming regular education placement as the first choice has caught many educators, in both special and regular education, unprepared. This was not the paradigm in which most educators had been trained. This was not the system in which many had spent their professional life. That was not what many were ready to implement. Thus, a large part of new interpretations and understandings of education for children with disabilities has been either rejected or ignored by many practitioners, in both regular and special education.
We sincerely believe that much of the reluctance of educators to embrace and practice what has been legally mandated—but largely ignored for 25 years—is not based in laziness, uncaring attitude, or evil intent. Rather it is based in inexperience and the inertia of organizational structures. The purpose of Successful Inclusion for Educational Leaders is to provide background information on legal mandates, with the current status of law stated as clearly as possible, and to point toward successful solutions based in research and best practices literature. We provide the broad picture of the current common understanding of the law (what is supposed to be done) and an understanding of currently available research and best practices results (how to do it), so that educational leaders will have the knowledge and information about necessary skills to act from a position of understanding and strength. When educators reject change it is seldom because they are afraid or otherwise burdened by a change. Often, it is done out of lack of experience, knowledge, and support. When aimed in the right direction and provided the proper support, change has been proven to be rewarding and beneficial to all educators.
We have worked diligently to set forth the legal requirements of special education with clarity where possible. There are suggestions in every chapter on how the law may be carried out in ways that help ensure success. Also included are many references and suggested readings in a broad variety of topics to encourage growth in the reader's understanding and skills. At the conclusion of the book, there is a quick but detailed reference guide to the various disabilities students present and how the needs of these students are commonly served by educators.
This book was designed and organized to provide education leaders a clear understanding of student disabilities, relevant legal mandates, and research-based and best practice solution suggestions so that greater success may be had in the management of educational resources to meet the needs of children.
The children of America deserve no less.
We would like to thank the reviewers of this text: Andrew Brulle, Wheaton College; Dan Fennerty, Central Washington University; David E. Gullatt, Louisiana Technical University; Michael Kallam, Pittsburgh State University; and Mark P. Mostert, Old Dominion University.
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