Date of Award

2014

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Educational Leadership and Policies

Sub-Department

Educational Administration

First Advisor

Zach Kelehear

Abstract

The issue of the overrepresentation of African Americans in special education is a persistent concern that has negatively impacted African American male students, their families, school districts, and the field of special education. School districts throughout the nation report a higher representation of African American males in special education programs than their presence in the general education environment would predict. In South Carolina, 42.5 % of African Americans receive special education services whereas 53% are categorized as having an emotional disturbance (ED). Of the 53% of the African Americans categorized as ED, 79% are males. In the Charleston County School District, African American students represent 44 % of the school district's enrollment and 55% of this enrollment receives special education services. Of the students who are defined within the category of emotional disability, 70% are African Americans. The purpose of this study is to examine how African American male students with special needs are perceived within their educational environment by elementary school principals, assistant principals, and general education teachers in the school district of Charleston, South Carolina. The following research questions will guide this study.

Research Question One

How do educators and administrators perceive the affect of the following factors on the overrepresentation of African American male students with ED:

1. Environmental factors

2. Teacher perception

3. School related variables

Research Question Two

Is there a difference in the educators' and administrators' perceptions of factors related to the overrepresentation of African American male students with ED?

Research Question Three

Is there a difference in educators' and administrators' perceptions of overrepresentation based on the following demographic characteristics:

a. race (Caucasian vs. other)

b. training on how to refer students to special education services

c. training to identify ED characteristics

d. years of experience.

The population for this study consisted of all individuals identified as active elementary school principals, assistant principals, and general education teachers of the Charleston County School District in South Carolina. Participants were invited to complete the Gresham Survey designed to quantitatively assess the perceptions of general educators about the overrepresentation of elementary aged African American males identified as having an ED under the IDEA.

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