COEHP Professor Co-Authors Book to Help Educators and Parents Navigate Special Ed Law
Kevin Brady, an associate professor of educational leadership in the College of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas, has a newly released book helping educators, parents and others who work closely with children and youth with disabilities navigate the myriad and complexity of legal issues surrounding special education.
Even though more than half of today's students with disabilities are in general education classes, the majority of teachers either have not taken nor are not required to take specific courses in special education law. That means teachers and school administrators often unintentionally place themselves and their schools at risk by violating federal and state laws that legally protect students with disabilities, Brady said.
"It's a non-adversarial book that helps navigate the complex legal issues associated with the provision of special education and related services to eligible students with disabilities," he said.
In addition to Brady, the book, titled "Legal Issues in Special Education: Principles, Policies, and Practices," has three other authors from a variety of professional fields to ensure it's as comprehensive as possible, including a professor in special education, a former school administrator and an attorney affiliated with a law firm specializing in special education-related legal disputes.
"The book uses real special education legal cases, and has adopted a modified version of the case-based learning model. The case-based learning model is a teaching method focused on learning the law and legal principles and is used extensively in law schools throughout the country," Brady said. "Educators and parents can use these legal cases as a useful guide that they apply to their individual situations."
Brady noted that the book goes beyond legal knowledge and helps educators and parents develop a deeper understanding of the many legal considerations impacting students with disabilities attending schools.
The book is already being used as a primary textbook this semester at some of the leading educational leadership graduate programs in the country, including Teachers College-Columbia University and The Ohio State University.
Professor Phillip T.K. Daniel, the William Ray and Marie Adamson Flesher Professor of Educational Administration at The Ohio State University, emailed Brady, noting, "Information from your book has added new life to my course as well as my future teaching approach to all of my educational law-related courses, especially in the area of special education."
The book is also being adopted at the U of A for use in multiple educational disciplines, including special education and educational leadership for graduate-level courses.
The book is divided into three parts. The first section addresses special education legal literacy; part two offers a legal primer, addressing the legal issues surrounding the identification, evaluation and eligibility of students under the IDEA; and part three tackles the two federal antidiscrimination statutes impacting students with disabilities. Legal case studies are used throughout the book to provide context.
In addition to teaching online educational leadership classes at the U of A, Brady is the current director of the University Council of Educational Administration's Center for the Study of Leadership and the Law.
To further help educators and parents with special education law, Brady and several of his professional colleagues at other universities are taking the practical applications in the book and extending the lessons to an online blog and monthly podcast. Both the blog and podcast are currently in the works.
About the Educational Leadership Program: The Educational Leadership program prepares students for licensure as principals, superintendents or other administrative positions. EDLE offers master of education, doctor of education and educational specialist degrees. For holders of master's degrees, it has coursework leading to certificates in supervision.
Shannon G. Magsam, director of communications
College of Education and Health Professions
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