Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Summers, Kelly H.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations (LEPF)


Special education services provided in public schools today are rooted in the Federal Law passed in 1975 known as the Education for all Handicapped Children Act (EAHCA). Since 1975 this law has undergone revisions, now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) but law provided the foundation to guarantee all public-school children the right to a free and appropriate public education in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). The federal court system served as an avenue for parents and school officials to settle disagreements around IDEA. The objective of the study was to determine Illinois special education administrators understanding of the IDEA LRE mandate and their attitudes towards inclusion. This quantitative study was conducted using on online survey format. The survey was electronically emailed to public school special education administrators across the state of Illinois. Using the Principals and Inclusion Survey (PIS) as a foundation which was originally intended for the general education principal audience, the Environment Dynamics Survey created survey to target the special education administrator audience. The majority of participants could identify the key phrases defining LRE and viewed themselves as have sufficient knowledge and understanding of LRE. The majority of participants did not know which federal court had jurisdiction over cases in Illinois. Overall if was found that behavior was the most significant factor impacting LRE in the participant’s classrooms. Using student’s individual needs to first drive goals objectives that then serve as a spring board for discussion for services and then delivery location can be best practice to avoid LRE missteps. Illinois special education administrators do not need to be lawyers, but should have a mean by which they follow Seventh Circuit decisions. Overall, Illinois special education administrators have a favorable view of the inclusion of students with disabilities.


166 pages




Northern Illinois University

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