Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Special Education

Major Professor

David H. Allsopp

Keywords

advocacy, disability, employee, parent, school district, special education

Abstract

Parents of children with disabilities face a daunting task when it comes to advocating for the rights of their children in school districts across the country. Yet, when these same parents also work inside those school districts, the challenge to balance their advocacy within the expectations of their employment may come with barriers. The intent of this study was to understand the experiences of people who are parents of children with disabilities, as well as educators, and have had to advocate for their own children inside the school districts where they work. Using a heuristic case study approach, this study incorporates the author's own experiences of advocating for her son, along with the experiences encountered by three parents of children with disabilities, who are also educators. Findings indicate parents who are also school district employees experience similar difficulties in advocating for their children with disabilities than parents who do not work for the school districts. Tensions rise between these school district employees and their child's school when the parent/educators feel their child's needs are not being met, communication breaks down between the two sides, and when educators on the inside do not understand the child's disability, the needs associated with that disability, and the accommodations which allow the child to be successful in an educational environment. These parents/educators also perceive repercussions regarding their employment within the school district should they need to advocate for the rights of their children.

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