Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education


Sandra L. Duncan

Committee Member

Karen Kimball


children with disabilities, Hispanic parents’ experiences, individualized education plan (IEP), middle school


The problem of the applied dissertation was parents who have children with disabilities at the target middle school are not fully involved in their child’s IEP educational planning. The purpose of the qualitative study was to understand Hispanic parents’ experiences with participating and contributing to the education of their children who are in the special education program. The study explored parent involvement in the process of their children’s Individualized Education Plan. It explored the issues Hispanic parents face when becoming involved with their child’s education and working with the school.

Parent participation in Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings with schools is mandated by the federal law, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Nonetheless, Hispanic parent involvement in the student’s plan is unilateral because decisions are mainly made by schools rather than shared discussion by both parent and school personnel. The issue of parent involvement in the special education process becomes more complicated when recognizing the diverse aspects of our growing society. Hispanic parents of children with disabilities may not fully participate in IEP meetings with schools because of language barriers, communication and language barriers between parents and the school, lack of education, cultural and moral beliefs, and/or flexibility of work schedule. Also, Hispanic parents may be unaware that they have legal rights under IDEA federal law.

The data collected revealed 3 central themes of parents trust with teachers/school personnel; familiarity/knowledge of IEP; and culture influence. The 5 Hispanic parents participated in the study by interview. They demonstrated being actively involved in their children’s IEP meetings and development. When they feel welcomed by their children’s teachers, the parents indicated that they could trust the teachers and confide in them. The participants believed they could actively make decisions for their child and did not feel as if their culture played a role. The 5 Hispanic parents with children in the special education program demonstrated and concurred with Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler’s parental self-efficacy motivator (Hoover-Dempsey et al., 2005).