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Policy and Law

Policy and Law Philosophy Statement
        According to Essex (2008), "educational leaders and policymakers must be knowledgeable of the law that governs the operation and conduct of their organizations as they face a highly litigious society" (p. xi). Each day, special education administrators are confronted with countless decisions - many with legal significance. At times, these leaders may not even realize the legal ramifications of their decision, but needless to say they are expected to demonstrate a sound understanding of school policy and law in their decision-making process (Essex, 2008). Special education administrators need to be well versed in state, federal, and case law governing both general education and special education in order to ensure that the operation and conduct of their organizations are in agreement with the law.
        Policy plays a large role in the day-to-day functions of an organization. For example, policies help ensure that there will be uniformity and consistency in decisions and in operational procedures. Policies also maintain a direction for the school and assist in the planning process by providing a framework. Due to the importance of policy, special education administrators need to be able to develop, adjust, and implement policy that aligns with local, state, and federal requirements. According to Essex (2008), special education administrators "need to guide the development and execution of sound and well-developed policies, rules, and regulations governing many aspects of their operation" (p. xi). In other words, quality policy development hinges on a strong knowledge base of state, federal, and case law. Therefore, it is essential for special education administrators to stay current in their knowledge of school law.
        In my opinion, special education administrators need to maintain a strong knowledge base in both general education and special education law. Weishaar, Borsa, and Weishaar (2007) suggest that "special education administrators must develop a shared responsibility with regular education administrators to communicate knowledge, procedures, and connections" between statutory law and the identification and placement process (p. 45). This is just one example of why special education administrators need to demonstrate competence in both the general education and special education legal arenas.
        In summary, special education administrators must possess a strong legal knowledge base. Both general education and special education administrators are continually confronted with decisions that require them to draw on their knowledge of state, federal, and case law. In addition, special education administrators need to be skilled in aligning policy development, adjustment, and implementation with the local, state, and federal requirements. In order to successfully accomplish these important administrative tasks, special education administrators need to demonstrate a high level of competency with both general education and special education law.

References

Essex, N.L. (2008). School law and the public schools: A practical guide for educational leaders (4th ed.). United States: Pearson Education, Inc.

Weishaar, M.K., Borsa, J.C., & Weishaar, P.M. (2007). Inclusive educational administration: A case-study approach (2nd ed.). Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.

A. Policy and Law: Sub-Competency for Director of Special Education

  1. demonstrate an understanding of state and federal laws, rules, and procedures governing special education finance, budgeting and accounting;
  2. demonstrate an understanding of state and federal regulations governing the monitoring of special education programs.

Artifacts

The following artifacts demonstrate my competency in the area of policy and law:

This artifact demonstrates my understanding of state and federal laws, rules, and procedures governing special education finance, budgeting and accounting (A1).  During my director of special education field experience, I had the opportunity to attend several different budget meetings paired with pre- and post-conversations with the executive director of the St. Croix River Education District (SCRED).  The attached budget proposal was presented at the transition budget meeting by the secondary low incidence collaborative planner to SCRED's executive director and director of special education.  Attending these budget meetings increased my understanding and knowledge of the process involved in planning a budget, the important financial questions to ask as a director, and the state and federal laws, rules, and procedures governing special education finance.

The two artifacts above demonstrate my understanding of state and federal regulations governing the monitoring of special education programs (A2).  For my director of special education field experience project, I was asked to summarize the stakeholder survey data collected by the Minnesota Department of Education's Continuous Improvement Monitoring Program (CIMP).  In order to produce a meaningful summary of the data, I had to re-enter the data into Excel spreadsheets, develop a systematic way of interpreting the data, and create a template for summarizing the data per stakeholder group.  The end product consisted of five single district summaries, as well as a SCRED-wide summary highlighting data trends seen across the SCRED districts.

 
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