F2-E: District Leadership and Systemic Inclusive Environments: A Case Study of One Effective School District

Inclusive environments are a national policy that challenges educational leaders today (Causton & Theoharis, 2014; DeMatthews, 2013; Rice, 2006).  Despite U.S. federal laws (IDEA, 2004; ESSA, 2015) preferring an inclusive environmental education for students with disabilities and documented benefits for all children (Kasa-Hendrickson & Ashbey, 2009; Leydon & Miller, 1988), educators continue to struggle to implement education in inclusive environments (Barnett & Monda-Amaya, 1998; Keyes,1990; Kuglemass, 2003; Praisner, 2003; Reihl, 2000).  Some scholars argue that leadership is the key to inclusive environments with most studies focused on principal leadership and only a paucity of district leadership studies. Theoharis and Capri (2012) have found that “although there are good examples of (inclusive environments) [that] exist across the country, rarely is it across districts” (p.283). The purpose of this in-depth case study (Merriam, 2009; Stake, 1985; Yin, 1989) will be to describe and understand the leadership practices of District X, an effective district with inclusive environments, an extreme case (Patton, 2002). Within District X, a purposeful sample of district leaders, principals, teachers, parents, sites, events and documents was selected. Data was collected over the span of two semesters in the form of interviews (1:1 and focus groups), observations and document reviews, guided by structured protocols, observation guides and document summaries, producing findings that can “serve as (a) lighthouse for other districts struggling to fully incorporate their special education population and to give these students the best possible chance to succeed” (Howery, McClellan, Pederson-Bayus, 2013, p.71).

Learning Outcomes

1 – Participants will learn about the benefits of an education in inclusive environments for students with and without disabilities.

2 – Participants will learn about the leadership practices of one effective school district with inclusive environments.

3 –  Participants will learn of recommendations to improve the quality of education in inclusive environments for students with disabilities.

Education Inclusive Environment


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