chapter  11
22 Pages

Navigating Special Education Tensions and Controversies

WithJudy A. Mantle

This chapter begins with an explanation of the need for informed and competent leadership in special education and the role of the leader in this area, especially that of the principal. It discusses three key topics that are often fraught with issues, tension, and controversy: multiple and conflicting demands on the school leader, diverse constituencies and multiple perspectives, and the general education/special education interface. The chapter explores several key issues that frequently generate tensions and controversies in the field of special education. Explaining why and how difficult or unpopular decisions are arrived at may not reduce all conflicts; however, this practice can sometimes assist in diffusing at least some of the tensions. Leaders at all levels must learn to contain their own personal tensions and frustrations when they realize that on occasion, the outcome of a dispute may not result in what is desired as the optimal solution.