Special education administration: what does it take?

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Emily F. Summey (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Stephanie Kurtts

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to learn about the practice of special education administration from veteran special education administrators. Research questions include: What institutional arrangements support special education administrators’ work? What personal and professional commitments keep special education administrators engaged in their practice? How do special education administrators manage the conflicts inherent in the position? What roles and functions are enacted by special education administrators in their school districts? A brief history of special education and the laws that have shaped the provision of services is given. Case law is examined in relation to components of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (2012) and how the results of case law have altered interpretations of the law. The multifaceted and complex roles of special education administrators are discussed. Eight special education administrators in North Carolina were interviewed individually. The interviews were audio recorded. Each participant verified their information by reading the transcript of their interview. Data was organized by codes, categories, and themes. Each theme was then viewed through Bolman and Deal’s (2013) four frames. Describing, examining, and explaining the practices of veteran special education administrators provide rich information to inform local school districts and preparation programs on the required skills and qualities to be successful as a special education administrator. Four major themes emerged across all the information: focus on the individual student and his/her needs, collaboration among school level personnel, effective communication and trusting relationships, and support for special education within and beyond the district. Each theme includes categories that elaborate on the complex practices of special education administrators. These practices are done with humility, patience, kindness, discernment, flexibility, self-confidence, and with a sense of humor. The skills and qualities potential special education administrators should possess or have the capacity to learn include a knowledge base of all the aspects of special education programming including the laws and policies; fiscal and budgetary knowledge; recruiting, hiring and retaining qualified personnel; and advocacy skills. Organization and program development skills are needed to implement the requirements of federal, state, and local laws and policies. Research skills are needed to stay abreast of current research and using data to make decisions. Conducting program evaluations to determine their effectiveness is needed. Providing and securing professional development for teachers, teaching assistants, parents, and all other service providers as well as finding resources are practices found in veteran special education administrators. Collaboration with a variety of stakeholders is necessary for successful special education programs. Ideas for future research include looking at student outcomes in relation to the amount of time the special education administrator has been in the position, how other central office staff turnover effect the special education administrator, and how well superintendents understand the role of a special education administrator.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2017
Special education administration, Special education law, Special education leadership, Special education policies, Students with disabilities
Special education $x Administration
School management and organization
Educational leadership
Students with disabilities

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