Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Education (Ed.D.)


Administrative and Instructional Leadership

First Advisor

Anthony Annunziato

Second Advisor

James Campbell

Third Advisor

Richard Bernato


The lack of involvement of students with disabilities in a regular classroom has remained a major concern in education. Every year, the number of special students escalates. For instance, in the United States, students with disabilities accounted for 13.7% of all students between the ages of three to 21 by 2018 (Kositsky, 2019). According to several reports, it is evident that the lack of inclusion of these students in normal school curricula causes emotional distress, depression, withdrawal from society or suicide in some cases. Every child has the right to access quality education. Institutional leaders know that it is not a must that special students are isolated from their peers or placed in separate institutions for learning. Gaps in the existing literature have led to a confusing perception of classified students, especially those of minority backgrounds. The purpose of this qualitative singular case study is to examine the perceptions of special education and general education teachers of the students who are classified as special education in their classrooms. The biases of the teachers, as it relates to race disproportionality in special education was also looked at. The study was conducted in a suburban New York school district and will use the data collected from individual and group interviews of teacher participants, and look at the special education classification process, from both the federal and district level. Analysis of the collected data revealed key findings for this study. First, that changes in the classification process of special education students have forced a closer look into the perceptions of teachers and their implicit biases regarding the classification of special education students. Second, a disconnect in communication between teachers, administrators, and the district has caused teachers to become frustrated, which has led them to rely more on collaboration with colleagues for the support they need. Third, teachers felt that the rigors of the classification process, and the pressure to get the students in correct placements has meant that collaboration, and professional development is more necessary than ever. The implications of these findings for all stakeholders will be discussed.

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