The high school principal's influence in implementing inclusionary practices

Christine Toomey Bradley, Tennessee State University


In 1990, 15 years after the passage of P.L.94-142, the Individuals with Education Disabilities Act (IDEA) was passed in an effort to further clarify expectations regarding services for special education students. The law stated that, to the maximum extent appropriate, handicapped children including those children in public and private institutions or other care facilities were to be educated to the greatest extent possible with children who were not handicapped. Despite research that outlined essential leadership factors needed for inclusionary schools (Guzman, 1994; Reitzug & Burello, 1995) and research that investigated specific leadership behaviors in inclusionary elementary schools (Burello, 1992), no research involving the study of a principal's leadership behavior and its influence on inclusionary practices was found for any high school in Tennessee. In addition, most of the research that was located focused on the kinds of behaviors that should be exhibited by a principal under optimal situations. As is well known, however, very few principals find themselves in “optimal situations.” More likely, there is constant struggle with facilities that may be marginally adequate at best, with large class sizes, with parents who range from overly involved to uninvolved, and with a wide range of talents and interests in delivering services to special education students. This qualitative study provided a description of the leadership utilized in the implementation of inclusionary practices in two high schools in Tennessee. This analysis of leadership was made within the context of The Framework of the Principal as Educational Leader in Special Education (Burello et al., 1992) and Sergiovanni's (1995) leadership forces. Varying beliefs, philosophies, and behaviors that were utilized to implement inclusionary practices were identified. Perceptions regarding the success of inclusionary practices in the participating schools were illustrated. Ultimately, this study provided support for existing research on leadership and illustrated a dimension of inclusionary practices that may lend itself to further analysis.

Subject Area

School administration|Special education

Recommended Citation

Christine Toomey Bradley, "The high school principal's influence in implementing inclusionary practices" (1999). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3007596.