Special Education

Position Statement on Special Education

WHEREAS, the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals endorses and supports the concepts embodied in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 with emphasis on early identification beginning at birth and guaranteeing that all youngsters are entitled to a free appropriate education.

RESOLVED: by the Board of Directors of the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals that:

Discipline of Children with Disabilities

To ensure a safe and effective learning environment for all students, including students with disabilities, we believe that all students, in accordance with local and state laws, policies, and procedures, should be treated equally in matters of discipline. Therefore, we support amending IDEA and Section 504 to ensure equal discipline treatment of all students.

Unfunded Mandate

Currently IDEA and Section 504 are unfunded mandates that place school districts and principals in untenable situations resulting in: - schools and families in conflict with each other, - deficit spending, and - reduction in educational programs. IDEA and Section 504 must be fully funded.

Attorney's Fees, Health-Related Services, and Mediation

Legal advocacy for special needs students is problematic. We encourage expeditious mediation for the most contentious situations, thus avoiding prolonged and costly litigation and adversarial relationships between parents and educators. Present arrangements impose an unfair burden on school districts to be the primary payer for the additional health, mental health, and transition services required by students with disabilities. The cost of these health-related services should be paid by other agencies. We urge Congress to place a cap on attorney's fees equal to the yearly cost of theeducational service in question.

Benefits and Effectiveness

Knowing, accommodating, and building friendships with peers who are different are benefits to both disabled and non-disabled students in an inclusive school. Beneficial outcomes for teachers (general and special education) are co-teaching and coaching opportunities. For inclusion to work more effectively, appropriate resources, staff development, and support services (e.g., the purchase of additional classroom technology, instructional aides, etc.) must follow a student with disabilities. In addition, there is a need for better teacher and principal preparation programs. Courses currently required for those seeking special education certification should be provided for all educators.

Approved by MASSP Board of Directors May 10, 2000, Lansing, Michigan
Approved by the NASSP Board of Directors February 3, 2000, San Antonio, Texas