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Making Regular School Special.

Making Regular School Special. J. Henderson. New York: Schocken Books, 1986. 224 pp., 17.95. Making Regular Schools Special chronicles the efforts of a director of special education and his staff to provide appropriate programs for handicapped students in a Massachusetts school district. The author's stated purpose is to provide parents, special educators, politicians, and human service providers with "a comprehensive picture of the component parts of the special-education delivery system, its programs, its staffing patterns, the dynamics of its team structure, as well as a knowledge of those departments and agencies with whom the public, special educators, and teams become involved" (p. xxiii). The book draws heavily on the experience the author and his staff have gained since the passage of state legislation in 1972 (Chapter 766) which mandated free, public education for handicapped students in the state of Massachusetts. Because Chapter 766 was a precursor to P.L. 94-142, the information presented is broadly applicable to other states.

The book's ten chapters can best be described in terms of the six major topics that are addressed. Chapter I describes the author's training and experience as a teacher, principal, and school psychologist. While studying child psychology in England in the early 1970s, the author became disenchanted with educating handicapped students in separate schools. As he studied the Scandanavian model of providing services to handicapped students, he came to view mainstreaming as a more desirable model. Upon his return to the states, the author became a director of special education shortly after Massachusetts had passed legislation mandating free, public education for all handicapped students.

Building planning and placement teams are discussed in Chapters 2 and 3. Among the topics presented are establishing teams; working with advocacy groups and parents; working with children who present severe handicapping conditions; and working with human service agencies to coordinate treatment programs for handicapped students and their families. The general functions of building planning and placement teams are described, and information on the types of program options offered by the district are discussed.

An overview of human service agencies in Massachusetts is provided in Chapter 4. The author discusses some of the tensions between schools and various agencies regarding the provision of services to handicapped students and describes his efforts in support of legislation to facilitate interagency collaboration. When legislation failed to materialize, a pilot project known as Project Link was initiated to find an efficient way for human service providers and public school professionals to deliver support services to handicapped students and their families. The project's general aims are described in some detail.

Chapter 5 focuses on the role of the consulting psychiatrist and was written by an individual who served in this capacity for several years. This chapter discusses the psychiatrist's involvement with teachers, handicapped students and their families, school counselors, building planning and placement teams, as well as his experience with due process hearings.

Special education law is treated in Chapters 6-9. Chapters 6 and 7 were written by an attorney. An overview of the special education appeals process is provided in Chapter 6, and issues in special education law are discussed in Chapter 7. A due process hearing, which placed the building planning and placement team at odds with the district superintendent, is presented in Chapter 8. The inclusion of the transcript enables the reader to follow the entire process and gain some insight into how disagreements concerning the placement of handicapped students are resolved.

The final chapter contains suggestions for future directions for the next ten years. Recommendations include developing master plans for in-service programs for all teachers regarding the education of handicapped students; establishing joint special and regular education teaching teams; developing master special education assessment teams who would conduct evaluations for severely handicapped students, act as liaisons with agencies for students placed outside the district, and consult with teaching teams. in addition, the role of special education administrators is outlined; suggestions for revising the appeals process are provided; and the development of locally based interagency collaborative teams to coordinate the delivery of services to handicapped students and their families is urged.

Although the book is billed as a broadly applicable manual, it falls short of providing specific guidelines for developing and delivering educational programs. Rather, it portrays some of the difficulties encountered in trying to translate legislation into practice and offers general suggestions for establishing teams, developing parent groups, and facilitating cooperative arrangements between various agencies and schools to coordinate services for handicapped students and their families. The book would most likely be of interest to individuals in school administrative positions.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Blankenship, Colleen S.
Publication:Exceptional Children
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 1989
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