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Correa-Torres, Silvia M.

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As the current number of special education students continues to increase throughout the United States, so does the number of students who currently identify as Latinx. With this increase, it is important to consider what the experiences are for these students’ families as they learn that their children qualify for special education services as well as what this implies for their educational progress and futures. This study used a qualitative research methods approach to examine the experiences of Latinx mothers of students recently qualified for special education services. This study involved a phenomenological approach to study what their experiences were beginning the individualized education program (IEP) process for their children as well as their understanding of the process and about their children’s IEP documents. This study included 10 Latinx mothers of students recently qualified under one or more of the following eligibility categories under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): Specific Learning Disability, Intellectual Disability, Speech and Language Impairment, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Other Health Impairment, Hard of Hearing, and Orthopedic Impairment. Using two sets of individual interviews for each participant, journal reflections and an artifact (IEP document) the three categories emerged while using a thematic analysis procedure to analyze the data: (a) school actions to promote trusting partnerships; (b) educational process; and (c) limited awareness as a barrier to families’ engagement. The school actions to promote trusting partnerships category included the two themes: (a) guidance eased parental concerns; and (b) communication secured trust. The second category educational process included understanding the IEP process and supporting students at home themes. The last category of limited awareness as a barrier to families’ engagement was divided into the three following themes: (a) knowledge of disability; (b) understanding of rights and procedures; and (c) understanding terminology and context. The information collected throughout this study, informs us of the current practices educational agencies engage in to involve Latinx families in the education of their children and what the experiences are for families as they begin the IEP process for their children. Furthermore, this study highlights the need for educational institutions to follow IDEA mandates to ensure that Latinx families are provided with ample opportunities to engage in the education of their children. This study also includes implications for future practice.


191 pages

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