Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Education (Ed.D.)


Administrative and Instructional Leadership

First Advisor

Stephen Kotok

Second Advisor

Catherine DiMartino

Third Advisor

Katherine C. Aquino


From conversations in school hallways, to SEPTA meetings, to parking lots and church benches, Black middle-class parents have engaged in talk of disillusionment with the IEP development process for their special needs child. Previous literature has provided limited insight into the navigational capital of Black middle-class parents in the special education system. This author interviewed Black middle-class parents who felt overwhelmed by the IEP development process and came to utilize their cultural capital (Yosso, 2005) to overcome systemic barriers to their active engagement in the CSE (Ladson-Billings, 1995) and to explore opportunities they have had for positive interactions. Findings of this research show that limited navigational capital was the greatest hindrance to Black middle-class parent engagement in the CSE. This study illuminates school culture’s grasp of the deficit theory model, which lends itself to ill approached relationships with Black parents that hinders positive, active parent engagement crucial for child development and growth (Yull et al., 2014). Parents and the larger school community benefit from cultural reciprocity as it develops the navigational capital parents require for effective CSE engagement.