Julie M. Lane


Private schools are not required to provide special education services to students who have been identified as needing such services. No prior research shows what programs exist in Christian private schools and how services are provided. This study sought to understand Christian educators' experiences and obstacles when developing a special education program. Participants attended a 1-week summer institute that provided instruction in key areas of special education services, disabilities, and instruction pertinent to serving children with special needs. Participants demonstrated an increase in knowledge and skills following the institute. The institute coordinator provided afterward 3 months of support through a virtual forum. Synchronous and asynchronous communication provided participants with support as they implemented their plans at their school sites. Conclusions relating to the three research questions are as follows: 1. The experience of participants as they applied their knowledge from the institute to their school sites was that (a) the two Catholic schools experienced fewer obstacles in implementation than two of the Lutheran schools; (b) participants reported more success when they had buy-in from the school community; (c) the follow-up virtual forum provided the summer institute participants with a reliable avenue to seek support and guidance; (d) schools differed in their experience of implementing the plans, and their experiences could benefit those interested in determining potential obstacles. 2. Steps that participants took as they experienced obstacles in the implementation of their plans included the following: (a) setting up clearly defined policies and procedures regarding identification of needed services, as well as clarification of general education teachers' roles; (b) recruitment of teachers and parents for student study teams; and (c) professional development for other staff members. 3. The virtual forum support following the professional development summer institute benefited participants in the following ways: (a) provided them immediate and useful feedback, (b) provided a sense of community, and (c) held them to a deadline to report on progress. Recommendations include (a) gathering statistical research about existing private school special needs programs, (b) development of a national private school database, and (c) regular summer institutes supporting special needs program development.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Educational leadership, administration, and policy; Children with disabilities -- Services for; Private schools

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Hamilton, Eric R.