chapter  11
7 Pages

Advocating with Appreciative Inquiry (AI)

ByLISA MAIBAUM

In March of 2010, Highland High School District (HHSD) was identified by the California Department of Education (CDE) as having Significant Disproportionality (SD). African-American students accounted for approx - imately 3.5 percent of the total district population; however, this demographic made up 11 percent of the total special education population. Although this system-wide issue was identified for the district by an outside government agency, a simultaneous process of data evaluation was previously conducted at the high schools. The required corrective action proposed by the California Department of Education launched HHSD into examining their issues with disproportionality, not just in the special edu - cation arena. System-level initiatives are typically not received well when mandated by an outside agency. Therefore, in order to help the staff make sense of the CDE citation itself, it was critical that HHSD administration present the internal district data that was reviewed by CDE. The decision to focus on issues related to disproportionality, specifically the overrepresentation of African-American students in special education, was framed to staff as not only a mandate from CDE that required action, but a moral imperative.