The challenges of inclusion: Perceptions of superintendents, principals, and teachers in Mississippi alternative schools

Gary Lynn Tune, University of Southern Mississippi

Abstract

Alternative schools serve a population of students who have come in conflict with the codes of conduct of their home school district. Students with disabilities are subject to the same codes of conduct and occasionally are referred to alternative schools. These referrals constitute a change in placement mandating alternative schools to provide academic and educational services and supports commensurate to the home school. This includes educating students with disabilities in regular classes. This research sought to ascertain perceptions of superintendents, alternative school principals, and regular and special education teachers regarding how well alternative schools in Mississippi meet the challenges of implementation of inclusion. This study indicated no significant difference in perceptions among respondent groups; the results yielded positive responses with the majority echoing unanimity of support regarding inclusion. They agreed students with mild disabilities belonged in regular classrooms, that both students with special needs and regular students benefited socially and academically from inclusion, and that inclusions should prevail even over parental objections. They disagreed that students should be excluded from regular classes due to severe physical disabilities, increased instructional time requirements, using assistive communication devices, or being unable to read normal size print. All four respondent groups unanimously expressed support or strong support for the implementation of inclusion.