A case study of the impact of special education law on the retention of tenured special education teachers
The purpose of this study was to describe the influence of increased legal requirements on current or former Inter local tenured special education teacher attrition or retention by reporting their reasons for staying or leaving through the theoretical perspectives of organizational learning and organizational culture. I conducted a qualitative multiple case study of two units of analysis through a constructionist epistemology. Data were collected from current and former Inter local tenured special education teachers through focus groups, semi-structured interviews, the Left Hand and Right-Hand Column Case Method (LHRHCCM), and review of appropriate documents. Data collected were analyzed using text analysis software, content analysis, and pattern matching. Four salient findings from my study were: (1) Current tenured special education teachers want to be listened to and have their needs considered, (2) Current tenured special education teachers feel overwhelmed by the workload related to state assessments, (3) Current and former tenured special education teachers believe that legally-required changes affected them in practice, and (4) Current and former tenured special education teachers perceive that time requirements for administrative tasks reduce time for student services. Implications for praxis include organizational learning and organizational culture that encourage listening to the experience of tenured special education teachers and including them in decisions that affect them in an effort to retain them. My study adds to the body of knowledge surrounding special education teacher attrition by describing how tenured special education teachers believe increased legal requirements influence their retention or attrition. Areas for future research include studying the time it takes special education teachers to complete legally-required administrative tasks and why those tasks are perceived as stressful, and the impact of special education administrator leadership on special education teacher retention, including the application of resources within an inter local. During this time of critical shortage of special education teachers, findings from this study may be crucial to understanding the factors related to the retention and attrition of tenured special education teachers in the Inter local and elsewhere.