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Dr. Reginald Leon Green, NATIONAL FORUM OF APPLIED EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH JOURNAL, Dr. William Allan Kritsonis, Editor-in-Chief, NATIONAL FORUM JOURNALS (Founded 1982)

Dr. Reginald Leon Green, NATIONAL FORUM OF APPLIED EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH JOURNAL, Dr. William Allan Kritsonis, Editor-in-Chief, NATIONAL FORUM JOURNALS (Founded 1982)

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Dr. Reginald Leon Green, NATIONAL FORUM OF APPLIED EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH JOURNAL, Dr. William Allan Kritsonis, Editor-in-Chief, NATIONAL FORUM JOURNALS (Founded 1982)
Dr. Reginald Leon Green, NATIONAL FORUM OF APPLIED EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH JOURNAL, Dr. William Allan Kritsonis, Editor-in-Chief, NATIONAL FORUM JOURNALS (Founded 1982)

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Published by: William Allan Kritsonis on Nov 28, 2013
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An Investigation of the Attitudes of School Leaders toward the Inclusion of Students with Disabilities in the General Education Setting Karen Ball Shelby County Public Schools
Reginald Leon Green University of Memphis ABSTRACT In this descriptive study, the authors examined the attitudes and perceptions of school leaders in a Southeastern United States public school district relative to inclusion of students with disabilities in the general education setting. A self-reporting survey instrument entitled the
 Principals and Inclusion Survey
 was used to collect data from 138 school principals and assistant  principals. Variables selected for study included demographic factors, training and experience, attitudes toward inclusion, and perceptions of the most appropriate placement for students with disabilities. Results revealed that school leaders were limited in their training and experience relative to special education and inclusive practices, and that their attitudes toward inclusion were slightly negative. While school leaders supported more inclusive placements for students with moderate disabilities, they perceived less inclusive placements were more appropriate for students with severe and profound disabilities. There was a negative correlation between the training and experience and attitudes of school leaders, and the results strongly emphasized the need for quality training and experience for pre-service and practicing school leaders. Key
ords: Attitudes toward inclusion, leadership and experience in special education, special education training for principals and assistant principals
Prior to the enactment of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (EAHCA), United States students with disabilities were frequently not allowed to enroll in public schools (Yell, Rogers & Rogers, 1998). Despite compulsory education laws that had been in place since 1918, only those students with mild or moderate disabilities were allowed to enroll in public schools. Students with severe or profound disabilities were ostracized and forced to remain at home with their families or placed in institutions (Singer & Butler, 1987; Yell, Rogers & Rogers, 1998). Today, after multiple reauthorizations, the initial special education law, (EAHCA, 1975), is known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA). Designed to improve access to public education for students with disabilities, IDEA requires public schools to serve students with a broad range of disabilities and mandates the implementation of related services and additional supports to assist these students in reaching their full potential in the general educational setting (Williamson, McLeskey, Hoppey & Rentz, 2006). Although school leaders and teachers are aware of the collective mandates, implications, and accountabilities associated with IDEA (2004) and the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 (NCLB), there is still much debate regarding how and where students with disabilities should be educated (Turnbull, Turnbull & Wehmeyer, 2007).). Educators opposed to inclusion view special education as a specialized service provided to students with disabilities outside of the general education setting (Friend & Bursuck, 2011; Salend, 2007). Supporters of this view argue that students with disabilities are uniquely different from their non-disabled peers. Therefore, they require services that are specific to their disabilities (Halvorsen & Neary, 2005). In contrast, educators in support of inclusion view special education as a mainstream service  provided in the general education setting with various in-class supports (Praisner, 2003).
Proponents of this view believe that students with disabilities benefit, both
academically and socially, when provided opportunities to interact, learn, and share with their non-disabled peers (Heubert, 1994; Patterson, Bowling, & Marshall, 2000). The latter view of this debate best describes inclusion (Praisner, 2003). Once associated with the term mainstreaming, a service-delivery model which places students with disabilities in general education classrooms without appropriate supports and services to assist them in achieving important learning goals, inclusion was first described in the initial reauthorization of the EAHCA (Kasser & Lytle, 2004). However, now IDEA (2004) mandates that students with disabilities be provided appropriate educational supports and services to assist with their limitations in the general education setting to the maximum extent  possible. This legal requirement, known as the least restrictive environment (LRE), explains the  premise of inclusion, which was not clearly defined by the law (Halvorsen & Neary, 2005). Using this model, students are provided the necessary supports to access the general education curriculum for all academic and non-academic classes. With increased focus on providing high quality education for students with disabilities, the role of school leaders has changed immensely. In addition to maintaining safe schools,  personnel management, and high-stakes testing, school leaders are now accountable for designing, implementing, leading, and evaluating programs to meet the needs of all students (Katsiyannis, 1994). While some duties associated with special education vary among districts, there are specific duties governed by federal law that must be followed. With school leaders holding the key to school-level compliance, it is necessary to identify the components of school leadership that are necessary for school leaders to perform their duties effectively (Sage & Burrello, 1994).

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