This study examines parental perceptions of their participation in the special education process at a high school in southern Illinois. Eleven parents were interviewed based on either self-reported low socioeconomic status or non-participation in a formal IEP meeting during the previous year. Regarding the quality and the quantity of their participation in the special education process, parents reported favorably in both areas. Most parents placed greater importance on more frequent and less formal methods of communication with trusted staff members, and less importance on IEP meeting participation. Some barriers to effective parental participation were noted, such as doubt as to whether or not their input in the IEP meetings was relevant and taken into consideration. Draft copies of IEP paperwork may inadvertently communicate predetermination of meeting results, and many parents did not fully understand the IEP paperwork. Technical language used at IEP meetings was also noted as a possible barrier. Parents also indicated a desire to avoid conflict with the school. Initial special education eligibility meetings were a negative experience for over half of the participants. This study also noted a fundamental difference in how parents and schools perceive children with disabilities. Nearly all parents focused on positive aspects of their children and similarities to their peers without mentioning any disabling conditions. The theoretical framework of this study suggests that schools approach special education through a “defectological” approach that emphasizes a child’s disabling condition. This extreme difference in perception could account for some lack of parental involvement in the IEP process. The implications of this study call for a re-examination of the definition of parental participation in the special education process, exploration of ways to minimize the barriers to parental participation in formal IEP meetings, inclusion of parents and students into the process of developing the IEP document itself and a focus on similarities and abilities of children rather than the current practice of emphasizing disabilities and limitations.
|Commitee:||Fuchs, Wendy, Reeves, Alison|
|School:||Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville|
|School Location:||United States -- Illinois|
|Source:||DAI-A 77/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Educational leadership, Special education|
|Keywords:||IEP meeting, Parental perceptions, Special education|
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