The effects of district size, administrative training, and years of experience on the discipline of students who have been identified as special education
The issue of disciplining students with disabilities has always been controversial and has frequently led to uncertainty among school administrators and teachers regarding proper procedures. The Individuals With Disabilities Act does not specifically address discipline therefore inconsistencies and improper procedures can and do occur. In addition, national and state emphasis on school violence issues has resulted in the revision of legislation and policies regarding disciplining of all students, including those receiving special education services. Although administrators and school officials report that the complicated process of disciplining students with disabilities hinders their ability to respond appropriately in issues regarding school safety, there is a significant absence of data to substantiate this.
The purpose of this study was to determine if the independent variables of district size, administrative training, and years of administrative experience had any effect on secondary administrators knowledge of or practices related to the disciplining of students who had been identified as receiving special education services. Data were obtained through a survey questionnaire distributed to a randomly selected population of secondary school administrators in various size districts across all geographic regions of the state of Texas. Respondents remained anonymous and participation was strictly voluntary. A total of 365 surveys was distributed with 209 returned, yielding an overall rate of return of 44%.
A majority of respondents was male Caucasians, between the ages of 36 to 55, working as assistant principals. There were 40% of the respondents who reported no college credit in the area of special education, with a majority reporting only 1 to 12 clock hours of training. District size was determined to be the most significant variable analyzed by a chi-square analysis of data. Larger districts were more likely to offer less traditional discipline alternatives for special education students. Although a majority of responding administrators indicated knowledge of the 10 cumulative day recommendation for suspension a total of 56% reported inaccurate responses. Only a small majority of administrators indicated that current regulations hinder their ability to discipline students receiving special education services. Results suggested that further research is needed to more accurately determine administrators ability to provide a safe school environment while attempting to adhere to laws and regulations concerning the disciplining of students receiving special education services. In addition, issues emerged which indicated a need for required yearly training for administrators in the area of special education.