Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Kristine Reed


The role of the building administrator as the special education leader of inclusion is one of major importance when supporting students with disabilities. The building administrator may face a multitude of decisions dealing with areas of special education such as eligibility, least restrictive environment, services, discipline, and instruction. Being able to make special education decisions that demonstrate an inclusive focus while maintaining an equitable environment for all students is a challenge faced by many building administrator, regardless of experience. This study aimed to determine the perceptions of building administrators regarding their knowledge for leading inclusive practices for special education. This study also intended to identify training and resources that building administrators need to lead inclusive practices for special education. To investigate, 194 building administrators across one mid-western state completed an electronic multiple-choice and short-answer survey to report what they know about inclusive practices and their perceptions of the inclusive practices they received during their administrator preparation program. Building administrators also reported what they perceived as their biggest challenges in leading inclusive practices. Data analysis revealed perception differences between building administrators who had earned a degree, held a certification/licensure, or who had prior teaching experiences in special education and those who did not have any preparation or experience. Data analysis also revealed how building administrators learn and apply knowledge related to inclusive practices as well as what special education knowledge and competencies are needed to better prepare them to lead inclusive practices for special education. Results of the study indicated that building administrators did not feel prepared to lead special education inclusive practices to support students with disabilities. However, building administrators who had a degree, license/certification, or experience teaching special education were found to feel significantly more prepared to lead special education inclusive practices and support students with disabilities. Building administrators also shared that on-the-job experience was the primary mode of learning about inclusive practices and supporting students with disabilities while special education support staff and collaboration between special and general education staff were challenges most reported.

Subject Categories

Educational Administration and Supervision | Special Education Administration


building administrator, inclusive practices, special education

Number of Pages



University of South Dakota