Doctor of Education (EdD)
Exceptional Student Education
First Advisor's Name
Dr. Elizabeth Cramer
First Advisor's Committee Title
Second Advisor's Name
Dr. Liana Gonzalez
Second Advisor's Committee Title
Third Advisor's Name
Dr. Tonette Rocco
Third Advisor's Committee Title
Fourth Advisor's Name
Dr. Joan Wynne
Fourth Advisor's Committee Title
African American, Parent Involvement, Special Education, Disabilities, Culturally Diverse
Date of Defense
Parents in disenfranchised groups, namely African American parents of children with special needs, are less likely to be involved in their child’s education, although involvement is associated with positive educational outcomes. The purpose of this study was to investigate African American parents’ perceptions of special education programs, of teacher actions, and of school policies that influence parent involvement of African American parents of children with special needs.
A phenomenological study was conducted with 15 African American mothers of children with special needs. These parents participated in individual face-to-face interviews, which included a discussion of the child’s Individualized Education Plan. Audio recordings from the interviews were transcribed and data from the transcriptions were thoroughly analyzed.
The findings were categorized into four overall themes. In theme one, Perceptions of Parent Involvement, it was found that these mothers perceived themselves as being involved in their children’s education. In theme two, Facilitators of Parent Involvement, it was found that parents were more compelled to be involved in their children’s education when educators communicated effectively, valued parent input, and exhibited love and positive attitudes towards parents and children. Findings showed that the absence of these traits were Barriers of Parent Involvement, which was theme three. In the last theme, Recommendations to Teachers and School Administrators to Increase Parent Involvement, study participants shared several recommendations to increase parent involvement.
My study concluded that professionals in the field should broaden their definition of parent involvement to include home-based activities of African American parents of children with special needs, such as engaging their children in home learning activities to teach them independence. Moreover, parents felt more compelled to visit the school and engage in other parent involvement activities, like attending school meetings, for example, when they perceived that school personnel valued parents’ contributions. These parents’ views were similar to insights gathered from African American parents in previous research. However, views that emerged from this current research that are different from previous studies include parents’ recommendations that school personnel communicate with parents using the parents’ preferred method, and that teachers and school staff exhibit love and positive attitudes towards parents and children.
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Briggs, Princess, "Teachers as Facilitators or Barriers of Parent Involvement: Experiences of African American Mothers of Children in Special Education Programs" (2017). FIU Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 3486.
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