Paper Type

Doctoral Dissertation


College of Education and Human Services

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Leadership, School Counseling & Sport Management

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Leadership, School Counseling & Sports Management

First Advisor

Dr. Linda Skrla

Second Advisor

Dr. David Hoppey

Rights Statement

Third Advisor

Dr. Anne Swanson

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Carol Macedonia

Department Chair

Dr. Liz Gregg

College Dean

Dr. Dan Dinsmore



Accusations pertaining to insufficient accountability for private schools that provide alternative educational options for special education students have led to opposition to those same schools. The opposition results in part from the schools’ acceptance of state funded vouchers and scholarships. In Florida, state vouchers provide funds which support alternative educational placement for students from lower socio-economic status and/or who have identified disabilities. Because they are not subject to state or federal government jurisdiction, private schools have the right to set their own policies and procedures to determine appropriateness of curriculum, assessment, accountability, personnel training and development, funding, and governance (United States Department of Education, 2009). In the absence of external standards in these areas, private schools’ ability to serve students who would, under public education, be protected under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a matter of dispute. The contention stems from concern that private schools are not held accountable to provide students with the same educational rights that IDEA intended, and that data is not tracked to assure effective educational and financial stewardship. Those opposing educational vouchers question private schools’ accountability and oversight, stating that agencies providing these funds and the schools receiving them should have clearly defined parameters to ensure appropriate use of designated funds.

This study applied previous research on identified High Leverage Practices (HLPs) and Evidence Based Practices (EBPs) in public schools to a private school setting to establish accountability measures in private school special education programs which utilize state vouchers. It identifies those practices which experts concur on as providing a high quality education as they best support the education of students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDDs), specific to private education settings which receive state and federal dollars to instruct these privately placed students. The selected practices included teacher professional development to support instruction of students with IDDs, accountability with respect to student progress and measurements of that progress, identification of high quality instruction, opportunities for inclusive activities outside of the separate special education school program, and transition program opportunities to support students with intellectual disabilities.

This research proposes accountability measurements and recommends fundamental standards of practice which align with a high-quality education to best serve students with developmental and intellectual disabilities who are served in private schools which accept state funding.