Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Exceptionality and parent -professional conflict: Causes, prevention and resolution
by Fisher, Anne-Claire, Ed.D., The University of Arizona, 2009, 150; 3356418
Abstract (Summary)

A large number of due process hearings regarding the delivery of special education services to children with disabilities occur nationally and the number is increasing. Differences of opinion between professionals and parents concerning whether or not a child is disabled, the diagnosis of a disability, and the special services recommended or provided has resulted in parent-professional conflict accompanied by substantial financial and emotional costs to parents, professionals and educational agencies. The purpose of this dissertation is to examine the origins and dynamics of parent-professional conflict about special education services and identify promising approaches and strategies for preventing and resolving conflict between professionals and parents of children with disabilities.

A comprehensive literature review revealed the major origins of conflict about special education services in the schools. These include (a) legislative mandates; (b) attrition of special education personnel; (c) ineffective leadership in the schools; (d) lack of collaboration between general and special educators and parents; and (e) hidden constraints in educational agencies such as time, money, and resources. The combination of “systemic cracks” in the nation’s educational system and the failure of professionals and parents to use effective “communication and collaboration skills” were found to be the major sources of conflict between professionals and parents.

Five promising approaches and strategies were identified for preventing or resolving conflicts about special education. First, identify systemic problems, initiate school-wide dialogues, and implement a change process to reform problems through legislation, policies, organizational structures, and operating procedures. Second, follow ten basic principles of dialogue and collaboration while communicating with each other. Third, engage in positive dialogue where each party reflects and takes responsibility for reaching a mutually shared alternative solution by understanding the other person’s point of view and conversing as equals. Fourth, train professionals to adopt an interest-based approach to dispute resolution by engaging all stakeholders in a school-wide dialogue, addressing underlying interests or needs rather than reacting to demands. Fifth, use third party intermediaries such as parent-to-parent assistance, dispute resolution case managers, individualized education program facilitators and intervene at the onset of the conflict.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Chalfant, James, Pysh, Margaret
Commitee: Taylor, John
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Special Education & Rehabilitation
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 70/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: School administration, Special education, Teacher education, Individual & family studies
Keywords: Educational leadership, Educational reform, Exceptionality, Parent-professional conflict, Special education leadership, Special educator retention
Publication Number: 3356418
ISBN: 9781109167429
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