The Department of Special Education’s (DSE) mission is to diversify the special education teacher population and special education teachers’ responsiveness to Latino student’s language and culture as well as exceptionality. Following the end of a federal grant that funded a Bilingual Special Education program (BiSped), the DSE integrated the components into the Special Education curriculum. Graduates from the federally funded BiSped program, 70% of whom were Latino, serve unique leadership roles in their school systems due to their knowledge base in differentiating language differences from language disorders.
The DSE aims to: (1) prepare teachers so that they may reduce the disproportionate representation of minority and English Language Learner (ELL) students in special education; (2) mentor participants and alumni to increase retention of bilingual special education teachers; (3) provide professional development to students, alumni, and teams of school professionals.
Thirty bilingual participants have completed their special education licensure program. Twenty participants have also completed a master’s degree project related to special education and ELL issues. 100% of graduates are employed in high need schools. At the end of the grant funding, the program director developed an on-line graduate certificate program in multicultural special education to continue to prepare educators with these unique competencies. The special education licensure curriculum in the DSE has been revised to frame each course around equity issues including competencies in teaching ELL and other minority students.