Term of Award

Spring 2002

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Administration

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Committee Chair

Cathy Jording

Committee Member 1

Michael Richardson

Committee Member 2

T. C. Chan

Committee Member 3

Diana Hammitte

Abstract

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1997 was revised in an effort to clarify the law, especially the discipline mandates. Questions still arose concerning the adages of the law. Principals continued to misinterpret the law or avoid it altogether. Principals, in general, needed to be more consistent in the practices they used when disciplining students with special needs. Since knowledge and practice depended upon each other, knowledge of the disability laws has been important for principals as well.

This study was done in an effort to determine the relationship between Georgia elementary school principals' knowledge of disability laws and the practices they used for disciplining students with special needs. The discipline mandates formulated in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) were the focus of this research. Individualized Educational Programs (IEP), Behavioral Management Plans (BMP) or Behavioral Intervention Plans (BIP), and Functional Behavioral Assessments (FBA) were procedures considered in the research. Principals were given the opportunity to provide comments about discipline and the procedures they used for students with special needs. From these comments, a descriptive report was provided concerning the practices used for disciplining students with and without special needs.

Another aspect of the study examined various demographics including age, gender, original college degree, administrative degree level reached, and years of experience in administration in relationship to the knowledge held of disability laws and the practices used by Georgia elementary school principals for disciplining students with special needs. In order to analyze the data collected, an ANOVA was used to examine each demographic variable. The results showed that Georgia elementary school principals use discipline practices in line with the parts ofIDEA 1997 with which they were most familiar. Most ofthe demographic variables did not make any significant difference in the principals' knowledge and practice. The exceptions were the practices used for the administrative degree level group and knowledge held of disability laws for the years of experience group.

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