Date of Award

Fall 12-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Special Education


Special Education and Habilitative Services

Major Professor

Linda Flynn-Wilson

Second Advisor

Louis Paradise

Third Advisor

Janice Janz

Fourth Advisor

William Sharpton


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act emphasized the importance of parents’ participation in all educational decisions concerning their children with disabilities. However, parents’ ability to actively participate in, and contribute to, their children’s special education process is influenced by a variety of parent and school related factors. For immigrant Latino parents, these factors may include additional issues related to cultural and linguistic diversity not experienced by most parents. This study examined the experiences of immigrant Latino parents when navigating the special education system as well as the impact that such experiences had on parents’ participation in the special education process of their children with disabilities. A researcher-developed survey (Special Education Parent Participation Survey, SPED-PPS) was used to collect the data. Findings indicated that, although about half of the participants were unable to communicate in English with educators, parents still communicated and collaborated often with school personnel. In addition, most immigrant Latino parents trusted professionals working with their children and had a positive perception of school personnel. A minority of parents believed that teachers knew best about their children’s needs, believed that teachers thought that parents interfered too much in their work, and/or felt uncomfortable with having many professionals in the Individual Educational Plan meetings. Immigrant Latino parents’ participation in their children’s special education process appeared to be influenced by the child’s disability as well as parents’ knowledge of the American education system, perception of school personnel, English language communication skills, and ability to confront school personnel about the child’s needs.


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