Illinois School Code requires each school district, independently or in cooperation with other districts, to provide a comprehensive program of special education. Recognizing the school district as the “primary agent for the delivery of special education services”, the Code authorizes Illinois school district boards of education to enter into joint agreements with other school boards to provide the special educational facilities and services needed to meet the needs of the disabled students in their districts. The leadership, organizational structures, and governance of these special education cooperatives vary depending upon their articles of agreement and the specified needs of their member districts.
The Lincoln-Way Area Special Education Joint Agreement was established as a legal entity in 1979. As a legal entity, the Joint Agreement’s Articles of Agreement established a Governing Board of one elected board member from each of the cooperative’s six member districts and an Advisory Committee made up of the cooperative’s member districts’ superintendents. The Governing Board holds the ultimate and legal authority in governing the Cooperative. However, the Advisory Committee’s input is essential to successful cooperative governance, leadership, and administration. The Joint Agreement’s Executive Director works with both governing bodies simultaneously. The authority delegated to each member district’s Governing Board member is determined at the district level, and may vary across the Governing Board’s membership.