As a school principal, a foundational understanding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is essential. The special education director, school psychologist, or special education teacher can share information about their roles and responsibilities that will be valuable to your future professional practice. The insights of your principal mentor regarding his or her involvement with special education programs and students, and efforts to collaborate with IEP teams, families, and students, is equally important.
Review the requirements for the current IDEA and meet with a special education director, school psychologist, and special education teacher at your field experience site. In the meeting, discuss their responsibilities as well as the responsibilities of principals in meeting the IDEA guidelines and the needs of these students. Conduct a second interview with your principal mentor about their involvement with special education students, including how they work collaboratively with the IEP teams, families/guardians, and students.
Under the IDEA, every child with a disability is entitled to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). The IDEA emphasizes special education and related services, which should be designed to meet a child’s “unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living.”
Furthermore, courts have held that the IDEA requires schools to prepare Individualized Education Plans, which confer “meaningful educational benefit” to children with disabilities. The “meaningful educational benefit” requirement includes a focus on raised student expectations, appropriate progress, and transition into postsecondary education and independent living.
The IDEA requires that schools conduct “appropriate evaluations “of students who are suspected of having a disability. An appropriate evaluation must be implemented by a team of knowledgeable and trained evaluators, must utilize sound evaluation materials and procedures, and must be administered on a non-discriminatory basis.
The Individualized Education Plan (IEP) was established by the IDEA to help ensure every child’s access to a Free Appropriate Public Education. The IEP is a written document, developed by an IEP team, which draws upon existing evaluation information in order to meet a student’s unique educational needs.
Under the IDEA, an IEP must include information regarding a student’s present levels of educational performance, annual goals and benchmarking objectives, services and supplementary aids to be received, and a detailed explanation of instances where a student is not participating in the general classroom and why.
The IDEA places a strong emphasis on placement in a general education setting. Under the IDEA, a student is guaranteed placement in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) possible. Therefore, an IEP team must explore a number of alternatives for enabling a student to participate in the general education classroom. These may include: classroom modifications, supplemental aids and services, alternative instructional methods, etc.
If an IEP team determines that a student cannot be satisfactorily educated in a general education setting, then the team must make responsible efforts to determine the LRE for that student outside of the general classroom.
The IDEA has a special provision for “parent participation in placement decisions.” Under this provision, state educational agencies and local school boards must ensure that the parents of a child with a disability are members of any group that makes decisions regarding the placement and LRE of that child.
Parents have the right to equal participation in this process, and are entitled to notification of a planned evaluation, access to planning and evaluation materials, and involvement in all meetings regarding their child’s placement. Additionally, parents retain the right to refuse further evaluation of their child. Both students and parents must be invited to IEP meetings, and the IDEA explicitly establishes a role for the parent as equal participant and decision maker.
Finally, the IDEA establishes procedural safeguards to help parents and students enforce their rights under federal law. The primary purpose of this requirement is twofold: safeguards protect parental access to information pertaining to placement and transition planning; and procedures are put in place to resolve disagreements between parents and schools regarding the placement of a student.
Under the IDEA procedural safeguards, parents have a right to review all educational records pertaining to their child, receive notice prior to meetings about their child’s evaluation, placement, or identification, and to obtain an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) for consideration at such meetings.
If disagreements arise, parents have the right to request mediation or due process hearings with state-level education agencies, and beyond that may appeal the decision in state or federal court.
After the interviews, compile a list of 5‐10 functions required of the principal to meet IDEA guidelines and to best serve and support special education faculty, staff, students, and families. Include 2‐3 community resources that can be used by special education teams to access additional information on specific student needs.
1. The principal is responsible for the education of all students in the school.
2. The principal needs to be familiar with the concept and practice of special education.
3. The principal needs to ensure that staff members know what is necessary for providing special education services.
4. The principal needs to verify that staff members are appropriately implementing services for students with disabilities.
5. The principal should lead efforts for data collection.
6. The principal should ensure that all staff members are aware of the process for identifying students with disabilities.
7. The principal must be prepared to lead meetings related to services for students with disabilities.
8. The principal needs to know all students in the building and be ready to talk about them.
9. The principal needs to know how to prevent discipline problems.
Write a 500-word reflection on your experiences, incorporating PSEL Standards 5, 7, and/or 8 and describing how you might apply what you have learned to your future professional practice.
APA style format is required for the body of this assignment, and PSEL standards should be referenced using APA documentation guidelines.
This assignment uses a rubric. Review the rubric prior to beginning the assignment to become familiar with the expectations for successful completion.
(15) Interview 1 with Special Education Director, School Psychologist, or Special Education Teacher: Responsibilities of the special education director, school psychologist, and special education teacher are thoroughly presented. Principal responsibilities are comprehensively explained.
(15) Interview 2 with Mentor Principal: The principal’s involvement with special education students and how he or she works collaboratively with the IEP teams, families/guardians, and students is proficiently detailed.
(20) Functions of the Principal/Additional Resources: A list of 5-10 functions for the principal to meet IDEA guidelines to best serve and support special education faculty, staff, students, and families is expertly detailed. 2-3 community resources for special education teams to access additional information on specific student needs are thorough.
(25) Reflection/Implications for Future Practice: Reflection proficiently discusses implications for application as a future practitioner. Elements of PSEL Professional Standards for Educational Leaders 5, 7, and/or 8 are expertly incorporated into reflection.
(5) Documentation of Sources (citations, footnotes, references, bibliography, etc., as appropriate to assignment and style)
(10) The content is well organized and logical. There is a sequential progression of ideas related to each other. The content is presented as a cohesive unit. Provides the audience with a clear sense of the main idea.
(10) Submission is nearly/completely free of mechanical errors and has a clear, logical conceptual framework. Word choice reflects well-developed use of practice and content-related language. Sentence structures are varied and engaging.