Dissertation

The missing link: the need for collaboration between special education teachers and administrators to champion students with disabilities in charter schools

Charter schools are continuing to marginalize a group of students—students with disabilities. Pardoned from many state regulations, charter schools appear to have difficulty executing their responsibilities around special education (Center for Law and Education and the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, 2012; Garda, 2012; Rhim, Ahern, & Lange, 2007; Stern, Clonan, Jaffee, & Lee, 2014). Students with disabilities are not provided the resources and services they need to be successful in the charter school environment. The literature highlights some organizational factors that may contribute to why charter schools are challenged to serve their students with disabilities, such as lack of resources and staff knowledge (Ahearn, Lange, Rhim, & McLaughlin, 2001; Drame, 2010). In addition, the reform literature often notes the importance of the relationship between administrators and teachers in creating the conditions for meeting the needs of students. However, there is little literature regarding how special education teachers and site administrators work collectively to impact the conditions of learning for students with disabilities in the charter school setting. This research examines how and to what extent site administration and special education teachers work together in the charter school setting to influence conditions for students with disabilities. Examining the relationship between special education teachers and site administration may provide insight into how charter schools can be more inclusive in their practices nationwide.

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