Special Education ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 11-11-2021


A select few African American families who have a child with a disability have the skills and knowledge to be proactive in the special education process. Special education teams must guide and mentor African American students and their families through the special education process. However, African American families have consistently contended that their child’s special education team does not provide the services necessary to meet their child’s academic goals. This qualitative study examined the perceptions, experiences, and expectations of African American female caregivers regarding the special education process. Participants were nine African American mothers and one sibling whose family members were from elementary schools, middle schools, or high schools. Data collection methods utilized in the study included a survey, semi-structured interviews, and three focus groups. Data were analyzed and compared to identify themes. Three themes emerged from the survey: education and training, participation, and challenges. Six major themes that categorized African American female caregivers’ experiences and perceptions emerged from the study: (a) differences in treatment and cultural disconnect, (b) lack of support and resources, (c) participants’ experiences with the special education process, (d) parent participation, (e) barriers and concerns, and (f) expectations. Implications for policy and practice are discussed. Recommendations for improving the special education process for African American families are provided for school districts.


African American and Black in combination with individualized education program (IEP), IEP, disability, special education, attitude, perception, perspective, experience, and expectation.

Document Type




Degree Name

Special Education

Level of Degree


Department Name

Special Education

First Committee Member (Chair)

Dr. Qi

Second Committee Member

Dr. Keefe

Third Committee Member

Dr. Luckasson

Fourth Committee Member

Dr. Peele-Eady