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Electronic Journal for Inclusive Education

Abstract

Foundations and Leadership, recognized that to facilitate the successful implementation of IDEA provisions in local schools, educators need a sound conceptual understanding of congressional intent and best practice and opportunities to collaborate in new ways with school organization colleagues. To this end, the State Superintendent's Task Force for the Preparation of Special Education Personnel awarded UA a $25,000 grant to provide school teams, rather than individuals, with the needed skills to implement the IDEA in their organization. Six area school/districts were invited to send a four-person team to attend a series of four weekend workshops centered on the law and on the attitudes, competencies, and dispositions necessary to bring about the promise of systemic change in school structure and culture embedded in the IDEA. Each team’s professional staff consisted of an administrator, special educator, and a general educator. As workshop planners understood that professionals and parents jointly contribute to the IEP process, each team also included a parent with a special needs student, who attended the school. Coupling educators and parents in the process also encouraged questioning policy and practice from a variety of perspectives.

The structure of school/parent teams was virtually duplicated in the workshop planners/facilitators team; it consisted of UA faculty from the Departments of Educational Foundations and Leadership and Counseling Psychology and Special Education with expertise in education law, organizational theory, and disability advocacy. Practicing public educators on the planning/facilitation team included an elementary school principal from a suburban school district, a special education teacher from an urban school district, a general educator who was the mother of a child with a disability, and a professional parent advocate who also was the parent of a child with a disability.