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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Historical patterns and underlying causes in the relationships between specific types of disabilities and substance abuse or weapon offences in public schools from 2001 to 2011
by Foster, Rebecca Denise, Ed.D., Arkansas State University, 2015, 105; 3685865
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of the study was two-fold: (a) to analyze the historical pattern of substance or weapon abuse incidents by students with different types of disabilities from 2001 to 2011 using the Data Accountability Center data sets (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Data, 2013) and the information from the National Center for Education Statistics about the number of students with disabilities receiving special education services under IDEA (2013) (; and (b) to explore underlying causes of substance abuse or weapons offence incidents.

Regarding the historical pattern, the analysis showed that a significant and consistent pattern exists in the relationship between type of disabilities and frequency of substance or weapons offences. Students with emotional disturbance had been more likely to have substance abuse or weapons offences when compared to students who were in the categories of specific learning disabilities, traumatic brain injury or an intellectual disability from 2001 to 2011. Whereas specific learning disability students' incidents ranked second, those with traumatic brain injury or intellectual disabilities showed the minimal number of offenses for substance abuse or weapons offences in the years 2001-2011.

During the interview portion of the research, most interviewees perceived that students with emotional disabilities would be at risk for higher substance or weapons offence referrals compared to students with other types of disabilities. This finding was consistent with the statistical analysis found through Chi-Square tests. When asked about a causal relationship, a range of personal factors including being lonely, being bullied, seeking attention, being disrespectful or being impulsive were the key factors for the student having either substance abuse or weapons offences referral. Most of the interviewees addressed that such personal contexts seem to be more critical factors for students with disabilities to have discipline referrals for substance or weapons abuse rather than the type of disability itself, noting that the issues of substance or weapon abuse are not limited to students with disabilities but applied to students without disabilities. The interviewees' responses supported the historical pattern from 2001 to 2011 that showed that a very small percentage of students with disabilities—less than 1% of students with disabilities with a range from .01% to .39%, had been involved in substance or weapon abuse across the nation.

The results of this study suggest that diverse stakeholders including educators dismiss any beliefs that students with disabilities often have substance or weapon abuse problems. Instead of having the prejudice against students with disabilities, this study urges to ensure all students with disabilities are fully inclusive in their classrooms and community.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lee, Ahlam
Commitee: Beineke, John, Holman, David, Nichols, Joseph, Wiggins, Wynona
School: Arkansas State University
Department: Educational Leadership
School Location: United States -- Arkansas
Source: DAI-A 76/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: School administration, Special education
Keywords: Emotionally disturbed, Public schools, School violence, Special education, Substance abuse, Weapons abuse
Publication Number: 3685865
ISBN: 978-1-321-62407-6
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