Date of Submission


Document Type



Doctor of Education




Integration, Inclusion, Self-Contained Classrooms, Critical Disability Theory, Transformative Leadership, Social Model of Disability


The inclusion of students with special needs is considered a hallmark of human rights policies and practices in many education systems throughout Canada and the world. However, the question of how to successfully enact such policies and practices in the face of human resource challenges, limited budgets, and other competing interests presents many challenges for policymakers and educators. This organizational improvement plan (OIP) aims to address this challenge as lived in District School Board X (DSBX). Many organizational challenges have created a dynamic where most students with significant special needs are segregated in self-contained classrooms focused on life-skills, even though numerous students can be successful in regular classrooms with adequate support. Many of these students do not develop the social and academic skills required to earn a secondary school diploma, while their disability may not be considered severe enough to secure a disability pension. This OIP will apply both a critical disability theory (CDT) and transformative leadership lens to this problem of practice (PoP) in showing stakeholders how the current paradigm marginalizes students with special needs. It will explore how shifting from a medical model of disability to a social model of disability will create an organizational dynamic focused on making regular classrooms more accommodating for students with special needs to reduce the reliance on self-contained classrooms. Through a pilot school approach, this OIP also outlines a change implementation plan focused on reducing the need for self-contained classrooms through an accountable process to increase integration and inclusion.