Date of Award

Summer 9-1-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Education: Curriculum and Teaching

First Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Samson

Second Advisor

Dr. David Connor

Third Advisor

Dr. Terrie Epstein

Academic Program Adviser

Dr. Marshall George


Black, Latinx, and other minoritized students have long been overrepresented in the high-incidence, subjective, disability classifications including Learning Disability, Speech and Language Impairment, Emotional Disturbance, and Intellectual Impairment. Special education places these students on trajectories that deny them access to quality education and the same postschool outcomes and opportunities as their nondisabled peers. Using Disability Critical Race Theory (DisCrit), and grounded theory analysis this study foregrounds the voices of minoritized middle school students receiving special education under high-incidence classifications. DisCrit allowed for an investigation of how student’s intersecting marginalized identities impacted their experiences as special education students. Further, Education Journey Mapping was used to explore the experiences of Jason, a Black middle school student labeled with a Speech and Language Impairment, as he coped with life at the general-special education divide. Finally, additional research questions for this study were designed to facilitate understanding of how families of these students conceptualized special education and disability as it related to their children. Findings demonstrated the varied ways families supported and advocated for their children. Implications for teachers and school leaders include rejecting deficit views of minoritized families, creating programming that invites families' strengths into classrooms, and building more inclusive programming in general education settings.



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