Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Teaching and Learning (Education)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Elizabeth Harry

Second Committee Member

Wendy Morrison-Cavendish

Third Committee Member

Robert Moore

Fourth Committee Member

MarieGuerda Nicolas


Current literature and recent legislation advocate parental involvement in education as ‘best subsequent reauthorizations practice.’ The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Amendment of 1997 and its promote parental participation in the special education process by requiring schools to consider parents as equal partners in the development of the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for students with disabilities. However, parents have reported the process as stressful and confusing. Prior research revealed barriers that marginalize culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) parents to passive roles in the process. Using qualitative methods, this study focused on Haitian parents’ participation in both the IEP process and in their children’s education in general. School personnel’s perceptions of Haitian parents’ participation in the educational process were also investigated. Rogoff’s theory of the cultural nature of human development was used to frame the study and analyze the potential dissonance between parents’ and school personnel’s perceptions of parental participation. The findings revealed that Haitian parents’ cultural background and their decreased trust in the educational system following their children’s disability designation limited their participation in educational matters. Additional findings suggested that the limited parental participation in the IEP process contributed to school personnel’s negative perceptions of Haitian parents. Beyond school personnel’s negative perceptions, the data also revealed that Haitian parents were participating in their children’s education in ways that were not obvious to school personnel. Service providers need to consider Haitian parents’ social and cultural backgrounds in order to provide services that have potentials to lead to true partnerships as intended by IDEA.


parental involvement; IEP process participation; disability and culture; Haitian parents and education; Haitian parents and special education; Haitian parents and the IEP process; minority and special education; minority and IEP process