Updated Research Proposal

In the past few weeks I’ve shifted the focus for my project on Special Education in WJCC. At first, I was focusing on how poverty, race, and culture affect the quality or type of instruction that children receive. Now I’m thinking of exploring Special Education in a more direct sense, integrating less about socioeconomic issues and more about the views of those involved in Special Education in WJCC. William and Mary School of Education dean Chris Gareis was a huge asset in helping me narrow down and focus my project; he also suggested a few contacts that I could talk to.  Now, I plan on interviewing a parent, School Board member, lawyer, teacher, member of the Special Education Advisory Committee,  and Occupational Therapist in the schools. I think focusing on Special Education in this sense will allow me to connect my project more directly to WJCC and allow me to gain a more comprehensive snapshot on the views of Special Education in the schools. Some of the biggest questions my project will focus on are:

– What Special Education programs currently exist in WJCC? How do people feel about these programs?

-What are the views of parents, school board members, teachers, etc. of Special Education in WJCC? Who do they think is responsible for Special Education? Do these individuals generally agree about Special Education policies or is there conflict between different groups?

– What advocacy groups exist for parents with children in Special Education? How does the School Board suggestions from the community?

Resources I plan to utilize include:


I hope to interview individuals from a wide variety of groups that are impacted by special education. Today I have an meeting with Beth Haw, a member of the SEAC here in WJCC, to discuss what she thinks of Special Education and to recount her experiences as part of an advisory board. I’m also contacting Patricia Roberts at the W&M Law School to see what kind of cases she deals with as part of the PELE clinic. I hope this will give me insight into the frequency of cases and level of tension between the county and parents. I’m planning to speak with Sharron Taylor, who is the community partner for my “Understanding Autism” class and is working to bring iPods and iPads into the schools. An Occupational Therapist in the schools, Lynda Webb, also said she’d speak to me later in March. I’m in the process of contacting Dave Gaston, Elise Emmanuel, a parent, and a teacher, and hope to secure interviews with them to obtain their point of view.

The hardest part for me right now is contacting individuals and securing dates to meet with them. Some people I’ve emailed haven’t replied, and it’s been hard to find times that work for others to be interviewed. I’m getting a little bit nervous that I won’t have time to meet all the people I hope to speak with, but hopefully during the next week I will be able to solidify my plans and dates.

WJCC Documents:


WJCC’s official statement and policies of special education


WJCC’s statement on the rights of individuals with disabilities (Section 504) and services available


-The most current Special Education plan outlined by the WJCC schools. This gives the legal backdrop for Special Ed, but it is interesting to view what’s left out and how certain groups interpret the language in the document.

WJCC 2008-2009 Disciplinary Report (posted on BB)- About 250 Special Ed students “have a record of committing a primary infraction”. I wonder what people think about this  and the discipline policies

WJCC School Board Meeting Notes/ Budget (posted on BB)- i’d like to see how much of the district’s funding is used for special education and investigate some of the issues that are brought up about the subject during board meetings.


Virginia DOE document on how special education programs are funded.


Williamsburg-James City County Asserting The Unspeakable – Norfolk Education News | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/education-news-in-norfolk/williamsburg-james-city-county-asserting-the-unspeakable#ixzz1FTLnbf3y

-Recent news article highlighting the controversies surrounding Special Education in WJCC


-Article summarizing the defeat of the August 18th budget proposal for Special Education. Has many comments to the article which will be interesting to gage public opinion

Volkmar, Fred R., and Lisa A. Wiesner. A Practical Guide to Autism: What Every Parent, Family Member, and Teacher Needs to Know. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2009. Print.

-This has a chapter on history that gives useful background on Special Education law

I also hope to sit in on a SEAC meeting or School Board meeting to view the dynamics present there.

1 Response to “Updated Research Proposal”

  1. 1 sgglos March 15, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Terrific work! Be persistent in contacting folks. Often W&M emails don’t get past spam filters. Follow up with a phone call if you can.

Comments are currently closed.


The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

Add Users

If you want to add yourself to this blog, please log in.