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ERIC Number: ED534059
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 115
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1249-4407-4
Potentials and Impediments to Universal, School-Based Screening for Behavioral and Emotional Risk: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Current Case Law
Gardner, Natasha D.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Georgia State University
Disproportionality, the over- or underrepresentation of a particular group compared to its presence in a population, in special education is a long-standing issue (Dunn, 1968; U.S. Department of Education, 2006; Waitoller, Artiles, & Cheney, 2010). Some scholars have proposed group or universal screening for emotional and behavioral risk in schools as a method of addressing disproportionality (Adelman & Taylor, 1999; Weist, Evans, & Lever, 2003). Notwithstanding the public health implications of disproportionality, considering previous case law, questions exist as to the legality of such screening programs in public schools ("Doe v. Heck", 2003; "Fields v. Palmdale", 2005). The purpose of this inquiry was to apply critical discourse analysis (CDA) to the federal case of "Rhoades v. Penn-Harris" (2008) to explore how court discourse reflects issues of social power and multidisciplinarity in the context of a school mental health screening program. CDA has roots in the postmodernist perspective that scholarly discourse is socially influenced and consequential (Weis & Wodak, 2003). CDA is usually interdisciplinary and primarily focused on explaining discourse structures related to social problems and may be applied from various theoretical frameworks and methodologies (Titscher, Meyer, Wodak, & Vetter, 2000; Weis & Wodak; Wodak, 2001). This study used discourse-historical approach to address the following questions: In "Rhoades" how are persons and entities referred to and what characteristics and qualities are attributed to them? How does this case organize relative power relationships between social actors? What arguments are used to legitimize conclusions about the screening program at issue? From what knowledge bases are these arguments expressed-legal, psychological or both? Case study data were collected from LexisNexus Academic and Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER), an online public access service, using criterion sampling and consisted of the two "Rhoades" federal district court opinions and various party pleadings. Interpretations were generated from a three-level data analysis (Titscher, Meyer, Wodak, & Vetter, 2000). Findings indicated that the court's use of various argumentation strategies in its discourse on student mental health screening presented varying potential duties and liabilities for entities and individuals involved in such programs. Additionally, although mental health screening in public schools requires an interdisciplinary approach in development and evaluation, the court's discussion of the program litigated in "Rhoades" used a centrist, law-based perspective, suggesting that attempts to facilitate a pluralist or an integrationist approach to such cases may require efforts particular to legal, as opposed to clinical, practice. Recommendations for developing school mental health screening programs sensitive to issues addressed by "Rhoades" are provided. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A