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Gatekeepers of the special education regulations
This study records the perceptions of special education administrators, building principals and regular and special education teachers in four neighboring North-of-Boston communities as to how each has: viewed the evolution of the special education law and its implementation process; included or excluded students with disabilities in local public schools during 15 years of state and federal mandates; mainstreamed students with disabilities; dealt with the fiscal restraints of Proposition 2 1/2; become more or less concerned with "due process" than with quality education.^ Twenty-one special and regular educators from two cities with large low income populations and two smaller, more affluent towns provided data responding to multiple choice questionnaire surveys and semi-structured interviews.^ Results indicate all four systems have adopted special education mandates incorporating change at varying degrees of implementation. The two multi-ethnic and socio-economically diverse cities have been assisted with compliance through state and federal regulators and the courts, overseeing procedural implementation.^ The smallest affluent suburban community studied continues to resist mainstreaming. While their affluent neighbor has successfully upheld a strong commitment to mainstreaming, evident in a more unified education system, where principals and the special education administrator share the role of gatekeeper of the regulations. Three communities' respondents described a separate system of education for students with disabilities where the special education administrator is considered the ultimate gatekeeper of the regulations.^ Compliance continues to dominate and concern school administrators. Legal and technical issues are reported to overwhelm the mainstream educator who, generally, has abdicated responsibility for the student with disabilities to the specialist. The specialist has all too readily accepted this assignment.^ Decentralization of special education and restructure of the mainstream, as recommended in the Regular Education Initiative, will require a metamorphosis of the gatekeeper to collaborative consultant and eventual elimination of the position special education administrator. The transition from policy to practice will occur only to the extent that regulatory agencies view educational outcomes and quality of programs as a priority, and when all educators apply the standards for special education to all education. ^
Education, Administration|Education, Special
Hazel Elizabeth Grenham,
"Gatekeepers of the special education regulations"
(January 1, 1991).
Electronic Doctoral Dissertations for UMass Amherst.