Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


Individualized education programs; Children with disabilities--Education;


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1990 determined that students with disabilities are to learn in the least restrictive environment (LRE). The IEP team has the responsibility to determine placement that is as non-restrictive as possible and yet appropriate. For students with Emotional Disturbances (ED) the concept of LRE is contentious. The purpose of this research was to investigate the perceptions of IEP team members as to the factors on which decisions are made throughout the IEP process for students with ED as the team planned for reintegration from an alternative setting into the student’s home district. This study focused on the legal requirements, as well as attitudes, perceptions and beliefs, in the development of the IEP when behavior is a factor as the IEP team planned for reintegration following placement in an alternative setting.

As a result of IEP team member interviews and IEP document analysis nine themes emerged in response to the research questions. As IEP team members described the IEP process for students with ED, procedural compliance was understood, and yet participation in IEP meetings was not always be occurring as required. IEPs were not being developed according to key legal requirements. A collaborative team approach to IEP development was not prominent in decision making. A perceived factor on which IEP teams based placement decisions may be a result of the legal mandate for placement in the LRE affected by philosophical underpinnings, a lack of resources supporting a continuum of services, and logistical barriers. Possible resistance to reintegration may occur because of general philosophy and past experiences as well as questions related to the magnitude of the change in student behavior before reintegration was considered and tolerances of those behaviors in classrooms. Legitimate Position Power by Administrators was the predominant source of power and influence throughout the IEP planning process. Data Power was influential in the IEP process. The parent assumed a role of advocacy, on behalf of her child, as a source of influence throughout the IEP process. Expertise by Teachers was demonstrated, but stifled, as a source of influence. Although teachers demonstrated strong skills and vast knowledge along with clear evidence of working with and on behalf of the student, little evidence existed where this expertise was influential in the IEP process.

Conclusions and recommendations from this study call for better understanding of the unique needs of students with ED and the importance of LRE. Furthermore, the IEP process must be enacted based upon the spirit of the law, not merely minimal compliance. Implementation of these recommendations would significantly improve outcomes.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Special Education

First Advisor

Susan Etscheidt, Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (ix, 449 pages)



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