Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Nancy Dishner

Committee Members

Russell F. West, Martha Coutinho, Louise L. MacKay


The passage of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) calls for the education of children with special needs in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). Interpretation of what constitutes the Least Restrictive Environment has led to debate about how best to include children with disabilities into regular education environments. The process of inclusion has created an environment in which educators have conflicting feelings about the various types of special education placements. At one extreme are those who advocate all students belong in the general classroom all the time. At the other end of the continuum are those that contend only those students who meet certain standards should be educated in the general curriculum.

The purpose of this study was to examine the perceptions of high school students, parents, and teachers regarding programs and various placements established for children with high incidence disabilities in both public and private school venues. In this phenomenological study, the guided interview approach was used to examine the perceptions of disabled students, their parents, and their teachers regarding special education placements that included receiving special education services less than 21% of the school day, receiving services 21% to 60% of the school day, receiving services more than 60% of the school day, or receiving services in a separate, private school setting.

The findings of this study found that students, parents, and teachers were supportive of the specific learning environment they were most closely related to. Although students had little specific knowledge of their disabilities and services, they were content with the current services they were receiving. Parents had more knowledge of their child's disability and were more vocal about supporting the specific program their child was involved with. Teachers were naturally very supportive of the environment they taught in. These findings support that there is a perceived need for a continuum of placement options for children with disabilities. Recommendations for further research include expanding the study to other public and private schools in the State to see if similar results are found.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.