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Educational Practice

  • Date Submitted: 06/04/2011 11:48 AM
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CHAPTER 1

The Problem

Background Our system of education is based upon legislative enactment's and judicial interpretations which provide the framework for our daily operations (Alexander & Alexander, 1992). It is necessary for school administrators to have an understanding of federal and state laws and judicial decisions which pertain to the daily operations of their schools. It is the school administrator’s legal knowledge which ensures that a school operates in accordance with the law. Principals are expected to know and follow the law. The Supreme Court has determined in Wood v. Strickland (1995) that a principal’s lack of knowledge of the law cannot be used as a defense for violating legal requirements. Among the legal expectations that principals encounter is the challenge of ensuring compliance with the highly procedural law governing special education. The law governing special education is changeable as it is subject to periodic review and amendment by Congress and interpretation by the courts. The public school administrator needs to be knowledgeable of special education law and to have opportunities for frequent updates on any changes or litigation trends. In addition to knowing the law, McCarthy (1992) suggests that it is the principal’s responsibility to train their staff in the law. A school staff which is knowledgeable of the law can protect the rights of students and avoid litigation. School administrators are responsible for using resources effectively for educating children. Failure to know the law can divert professionals’ time and energy away from learning as they prepare for litigation. Financial resources spent on legal costs are lost to the learning process. The history of special education is recent. Kirk (1962) reported that

2 prior to the 1800’s, there were no educational provisions for the handicapped child. The mentally subnormal individual was generally relegated to an attic or the role of village idiot (p. 6). Although...

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