Medium 9781475823899

Jspr Vol 28-N3

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The Journal of School Public Relations is a quarterly publication providing research, analysis, case studies and descriptions of best practices in six critical areas of school administration: public relations, school and community relations, community education, communication, conflict management/resolution, and human resources management. Practitioners, policymakers, consultants and professors rely on the Journal for cutting-edge ideas and current knowledge. Articles are a blend of research and practice addressing contemporary issues ranging from passing bond referenda to building support for school programs to integrating modern information.

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Notes From the Guest Editor

ePub

KAREN A. MYERS

The number of students with disabilities is rapidly growing in elementary, secondary, and postsecondary institutions in the United States. Approximately 14% of K–12 students have disabilities (National Center for Education Statistics, 2005), and 9% of students enrolled in higher education have disabilities, a figure that has tripled over the past 20 years (U.S. Census Bureau, n.d.). Students with disabilities have potential and are successful, but negative attitudes, lowered standards, and stereotypes lead to a self-fulfilled prophecy. It is therefore beneficial for school public relations professionals to be aware of this growing population and the myriad issues that accompany it. Accepting a shared responsibility, they can join forces with educators, students, and families in sharing information with schools and the community, thus becoming advocates for students with disabilities.

In an effort to support this venture, the articles in this issue are written by authorities in the field of disability and education—people who are eager to share the good news with the world. They offer to public relations specialists methods for communicating with students with disabilities, reasons for involvement, and tools needed to spread the word.

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Legal Issues in Educating Students With Disabilities

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GERARD A. FOWLER

AMANDA L. RAINEY

ABSTRACT: Since the passing of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, Americans With Disabilities Act, and the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, public and private schools have had to adapt the ways in which they provide education and services to their students and communities. It is essential for school public relations professionals to be familiar and conversant in legal issues relating to individuals with disabilities and the way in which the educational system supports them. This article offers background information on prominent legislation, requirements for schools, and successful strategies for handling disciplinary actions, by reviewing recent case law and legislation.

Since the passing of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (1973), the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA; 1991), and the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), public and private schools have had to adapt the ways in which they provide education and services to their students and communities. As such, it is essential for school public relations professionals to be familiar and conversant in legal issues relating to individuals with disabilities and the way in which the educational system supports them. This article offers information on prominent legislation and requirements for schools, specifically examining Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, ADA, and IDEA. More important, it offers successful strategies for school public relations professionals in working with administrators, media, students, and parents. School public relations professionals will be able to utilize this information to communicate effectively with other administrators, media, parents, and community members about the role of the school in educating persons with a disability.

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Universal Instructional Design as a Model for Educational Programs

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JEANNE L. HIGBEE

ABSTRACT: This article describes Universal Instructional Design as an inclusive pedagogical model for use in educational programs, whether provided by traditional educational institutions, community-based initiatives, or workplace literacy projects. For the benefit of public relations specialists and classroom educators alike, the article begins with a brief introduction to Universal Instructional Design. It then discusses guidelines for implementation and illustrates these guidelines using the example of a school–community relations course. The article concludes with resources for additional information and implications for school public relations specialists.

Universal Instructional Design (UID; Bowe, 2000; Higbee, 2003; Silver, Bourke, & Strehorn, 1998) is a relatively new pedagogical model for providing access to education for people with disabilities by rethinking teaching practices to create curricula and classrooms that are inclusive for all students. UID is an application of an architectural concept, Universal Design (UD; Center for Universal Design, 1997). When designing a building or other facility, the architect takes into consideration all of the potential users of that space and, beginning with the initial planning, integrates features into the design to meet user needs so that everyone benefits. Some of the architectural features that accommodate people with disabilities can benefit many others, including senior citizens, families with young children, and delivery people—for example, automatic door openers and water fountains at varying heights

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Universal Instructional Design: A Community Relations Plan for K–12 Success

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KAREN A. MYERS

JO NELL WOOD

MARK POUSSON

ABSTRACT: This article provides a community relations professional the rationale and background regarding the use of Universal Instructional Design in classrooms. It also provides community relations specialists with a communication plan for educating the public on Universal Instructional Design via a teaching and modeling approach. Results of a recent study of Missouri public school teachers indicate that Universal Instructional Design is a fairly new concept to K–12 educators and should thus be explored as well as communicated to parents and community so that it can become an accepted method of instruction to aid in student success.

Change is difficult for any organization. As the old adage goes, “the only one who likes change is a wet baby.” However, to continue to be a viable provider of education, the organization must grow and change to meet the demands of an evolving society. One problem that we as educators face is that school is no longer our parents’ experience. In other words, even though parents and the community reflect on their schooling as having made them successful, that schooling may not be what is needed to best prepare students for the future. This is especially true in the field of curriculum and instruction. The informational content and methods by which curriculum is delivered have changed, but the internal and external publics are not always prepared for these changes. This is where the job of the community relations specialists becomes particularly important. Without a strong and effective community relations program, needed changes in content and delivery of curriculum and instruction can become a “political football” (i.e., being tossed from person to person, party to party).

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Disability Competency in Community Relations and Counseling

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JENNIFER GIBSON

ABSTRACT: It is essential for a school public relations professional to be familiar with disability competency as it relates to counseling programs within the schools and community. This article is an introduction to disability competency in such settings. The initial discussion highlights a historical perspective of the treatment of persons with disabilities, particularly children. The focus then shifts to the identity development of this often-overlooked population and the importance of this knowledge among school public relations specialists. To conclude, an exploration of disability-affirming etiquette and language is presented.

Public relations specialists may believe that the likelihood of meeting students, parents, and community members with disabilities is small and may thus question their need to learn disability competency, believing that there is no need. However, disability spans every ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, and socioeconomic status. Approximately one in every five Americans has a disability, thereby composing nearly 20% of our nation’s population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000). It is apparent by this statistic that school professionals, including public relations officers, counselors, and administrators, will encounter students, parents, peers, and community members with disabilities. With this, these professionals need to deliver disability competent services in order to maximize student success. It is essential for school public relations professionals to be familiar with disability competency as it relates to counseling programs within the schools and community. School counselors and public relations specialists alike have not often been given adequate, if any, instruction on disability competency. This oversight might be attributed to society’s historically viewing disability from a medical model (Leeds Metropolitan University, 2005), which states that disability represents a defect or loss of function that resides in the individual. In turn, medical doctors have treated persons with disabilities exclusively with surgery, physical therapy, and medication. Whatever its outcome, this medical treatment is seen as “good enough” and worthy of appreciation by the individual as an attempt to improve one’s life. Educational systems have followed this philosophy. Special education programs have been implemented to address the academic needs of students with disabilities. There is a belief among K–12 educators that an individual education plan can resolve most needs that a student with a disability may have. For needs that appear to have no prescribed solution, system constructs prevent professionals from exploring creative means of finding individualized answers. This inaction and inability to innovate can result in the frustration of counselors, teachers, school administrators, and others who enter the field of education to not only educate students but improve their lives. This article examines the treatment evolution of persons with disabilities, and it offers suggestions in providing disability competency within schools and community-based counseling programs.

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Creating Virtual Community: Mentoring Kids With Disabilities on the Internet

ePub

REBECCA C. CORY

SHERYL BURGSTAHLER

ABSTRACT: Students with disabilities face many barriers that cause them to be less successful than they could be. Virtual mentoring provides opportunities for employers in the community to act as mentors to the students, thereby enhancing community ties and creating positive public relations. This article explores the ways that a group electronic mentoring community can support students with disabilities and promote community–school or nonprofit relationships that foster public relations and provide real support to students with disabilities. They share technological logistics as well as steps for building community through primarily virtual means. The e-mentoring community of DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) is used as a case study in virtual mentoring.

E-mentoring communities can be excellent initiatives for schools and programs in order to enhance public relations and build relationships with local businesses and professionals. Through the recruitment of successful mentors, the administrator of an e-mentoring community has the opportunity to support public relations and publicize an organization’s activities for which e-mentor community members are eligible. Adults who are interested in volunteering as mentors can participate in an e-mentoring community from home and with a flexible schedule.

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