Dr. William W. Henderson Inclusion School
Currently, the Henderson school in Dorchester is an inclusion school in the Boston Public School system, meaning that students with disabilities learn in classrooms along with their non-disabled peers. Considering histories of students with disabilities not being allowed to attend public schools or being cast aside as “unteachable” within schools, this inclusionary concept exemplifies growth in the areas of civil rights and education for students with disabilities. Though the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates that students have a right to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) learn in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), the Henderson school prides itself upon its inclusionary principles and models how to best provide students with disabilities an environment in which to thrive. Approximately 33% of students at the Henderson school have disabilities, a much higher rate than that of the national average.
Backstory and Context
In past centuries of education, federal and state legislatures did not account for provisions for students with disabilities. This is partially because the diagnosis of disabilities and the acceptance of people with disabilities have taken large strides in recent decades. Students with disabilities were often denied access to any public education on the basis that teachers could were not able to educate them. If students with disabilities were actually allowed into public schools, they were often put into subaverage classrooms and were more babysat than taught general curriculum material.
The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) provides certain provisions for students with disabilities that all publicly funded schools must accommodate. One of these provisions is a Free and Appropriate Public Education. This means that all students must have access to an education that is best tailored for his/her/their ability and is of no cost to the student or family. The Dr. William W. Henderson Inclusion School provides this as a public school by meeting with each student individually to form an Individualized Education Program (IEP). An IEP is a document that general educators, any additional staff necessary, and the family of the student with a disability meet to decide on the best course of education for the student and what accommodations or modifications to the general education curriculum that the student may need.
Another provision of the IDEA, originally adopted in 1975 and amended most recently in 2004, is that a student with disabilities must be educated in the Least Restrictive Environment. This means that the educators should determine what educational situation provides the best environment for which a student with disabilities to learn new material. This varies from student to student based on his/her/their needs. The Dr. William W. Henderson Inclusion School accomplishes this by advocating for full inclusion of students with disabilities into classrooms. This integrates students with disabilities into classrooms with their peers without disabilities and gives access of general curriculum to all students.
Selah, J.D., M.S., Matthew. Your Child's Rights: Six Principles of IDEA. Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities. . 09/29/2018. https://www.smartkidswithld.org/getting-help/know-your-childs-rights/your-childs-rights-6-principles-of-idea/.