Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Principal Preparation in Special Education: Building an Inclusive Culture
by Hofreiter, Deborah, Ed.D., California State University, Long Beach, 2017, 159; 10285190
Abstract (Summary)

The importance of principal preparation in special education has increased since the Education for All Handicapped Children Act was passed in 1975. There are significant financial reasons for preparing principals in the area of special education. Recent research also shows that all children learn better in an inclusive environment. Principals who are not prepared in the area of special education have a difficult time implementing an inclusive culture at their schools. This qualitative inquiry study set out to explore principals’ perceptions of their preparation in special education and subsequent district support in building their understanding and implementation of an inclusionary culture in their schools.

Grounded in Critical Disability Theory (Hosking, 2008) and Social Justice Leadership Framework (Furman, 2012), the conceptual framework of this study, Inclusive Leadership Framework, outlined characteristics of an inclusive leader and a framework for building an inclusive culture. Some principals interviewed for the study demonstrated these characteristics and some did not. Principals wanted to learn more about special education and wanted their students to succeed. The Inclusive Leadership Framework evolved throughout the study, but was remained grounded to prevailing praxis of reflection and action.

This study examined the attitudes of principals in K-12 settings in nine Southern California school districts in order to discover their perceptions of the effect their administrative credential preparation in special education had on building an inclusive culture. In addition, principals offered their perceptions relative to how district support in special education helped inform leadership practice regarding building a culture of inclusion. Finally, participants shared anecdotal experiences revealing ways they “learned on the job” as they navigated the world of special education. Recommendations for policy and practice for administrative preparation programs and the Clear Administrative Credential process, professional development and coaching of administrators is addressed in this study.

Significant findings revealed that principals who feel unprepared in special education do not always develop an inclusionary culture, or understand its benefits to student learning. In addition, participants revealed that they would have preferred knowing more about the process of special education before taking their first administrative position. One interesting anecdotal finding suggested that administrators who are parents of a special needs child or were one themselves are very well educated in the realm of special education and take a personal interest in it. A key recommendation for policy/practice/research included making a special education goal in the Individual Induction Plan for the Clear Administrative Credential. The program includes coaching and coaches need to be provided that can instruct in special education and the building of inclusive school culture.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Scott, James
Commitee: Dale, Ben, Nakai, Karen
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Educational Leadership
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 78/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Special education
Keywords: Administrative credential, Administrator preparation, Inclusion, Inclusive education, Special education
Publication Number: 10285190
ISBN: 978-0-355-06838-2
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