Special education administrators and child study team members: An exploration of the relationship leading to state compliance

Maureen Susan Edwards, Fordham University


The leadership of special services ensures compliance by school systems in meeting the needs of the special education population. The purpose of the qualitative study explored the leadership styles of directors of special services in relation to the child study team members in compliant and noncompliant K–8 school districts. Four directors and their child study team members participated in the study. District size was examined to determine whether district size impacts special education leadership and compliance. This study found differences in leadership roles depending on size of the district. Large districts had leaders called directors who had administrative responsibilities such as staff observations and evaluations. Small districts had leaders called coordinators who managed and were members of the child study team. Compliant districts leaders and child study team members stressed the need for collaboration as the prime method of leading child study teams to compliance. Noncompliant district leaders and child study team members discussed leadership styles which disseminated information or articulated needs to child study team members as individuals rather than a cohesive team. The study also resulted in a strong need for a new type of self-assessment monitoring process due to the large amount of time and paperwork which led to time away from students. Larger districts outsourced assistance to help with the first step of the process; however, stronger team collaboration led to more successful outcomes. Findings also supported smaller caseloads for child study team members which affected district compliance. Technological advancement benefited child study team workload; however, expensive programs did not automatically generate federally mandated compliant documentation. Recommendations for improvement include state level communication systems with directors, such as direct e-mail or blogs, to articulate and translate laws and codes clearer and quicker. Professional development opportunities for child study team members to learn effective child study team management and leadership would help build a large pool of qualified personnel future special education leaders. Finally, state guidelines should address child study team caseloads. Laws need to consider the need for limiting child study team caseloads to help districts maintain compliance.

Subject Area

School administration|Special education

Recommended Citation

Edwards, Maureen Susan, "Special education administrators and child study team members: An exploration of the relationship leading to state compliance" (2007). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3262833.