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


This exploratory study examines the correlations between teachers’ attitudes and the disproportionate representation of African American males in special educational services in the United States education system. Using a sample of teachers from two elementary schools with special education student representation proportional to the student body population, the purpose of this study is to examine the attitudes of teachers with regard to student placement in special education programs. Specifically, this study will focus on African American male student placements in special education and their achievement on the Grade 3 English Language Arts (ELA) proficiency test. This study employed a purposive sample of 4 members from two elementary schools with proportional racial/ethnic and gender student representation in the special education program. School faculty eligible for the study include two general and two special education teachers. Scholars have been investigating the problem of African American students who are overrepresented in special education for decades. Research has consistently indicated a multitude of factors that have created this disproportionality. However, limited research has focused on those schools and districts that have effectively maintained proportionate representation of African American males in special education programs. The widespread misuse and unjust implementation of special education practice and assignments to special education programs urgently calls for a paradigm shift. The current special education paradigm needs to reflect practices informed by social justice and equity pedagogy and critical multicultural education.