Date of Award

Summer 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Dr. Lilian Hill

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Dr. Hollie Filce

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Dr. David Lee

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Dr. Thomas Lipscomb

Committee Member 4 School


Committee Member 5

Dr. Kyna Shelley

Committee Member 5 School



This study sought to assess the knowledge of Mississippi K-12 public school principals and assistant principals in special education law, policies, and procedures concerning the six principles (i.e., zero reject, non-discriminatory evaluation, least restrictive environment, free appropriate public education, due process, and parent participation) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004. This study also sought to establish by which method (i.e., university coursework, administrative trainings, on-the-job experiences, self-taught research, or did not learn this) they acquired their knowledge of special education law, policies, and procedures. The researcher adapted Jesteadt’s survey tool to ascertain participants’ special education teaching experience, and special education litigation; and university training and coursework, including professional development opportunities. Additionally, the survey tool sought to assess participants’ ability to identify the meaning of 20 acronyms associated with special education; respond to 12 hypothetical scenarios based on the six major principles of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004; and establish by which method school leaders contended to have learned about special education policies and procedures for each of the six principles assessed in this study. Despite repeated efforts to obtain a good sample, only 32 participants returned the completed survey. The data showed that participating Mississippi principals’ knowledge of special education was weakest regarding the policies of procedural due process, zero reject, and least restrictive environment. Additionally, findings revealed that less than half of the responses for the 20 acronyms received a 75% or more response that was correct. The results demonstrate that changes are needed in the preparation of school leaders for their responsibilities in special education policies and procedures.