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The Important Role Principals Play in Special Education

October 16, 2018

Principals who effectively manage special education in their schools have to be one part lawyer, one part counselor—and a little bit fearless.

That’s the assessment from interviews with principals, educators in administrator-prep programs, and researchers who have taken a deep look at successful school leaders.

The need for legal expertise is obvious: The federal government, through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, states, and school districts have created a complex set of rules and policies that govern the education of students with disabilities and often carry the force of law.

The job also requires school leaders to support parents, students, and teachers, many of whom see the principal as the primary arbiter in cases of disagreement. District-level administrators may be a faceless character to most parents.

Principals, on the other hand, are the administrators that they know.




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