Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


School of Education


There is a plethora of research to suggest that there are a number of benefits to parent participation in a student's education, including improved education outcomes for students (Cheung & Pomerantz, 2012). However, there has been no real consensus on whether or not African American parents demonstrate appropriate involvement in their children's education since parent participation has typically been defined according to the norms of White middle class culture (Fields-Smith, 2005). Nevertheless, African American students have been found to demonstrate some of the lowest levels of academic achievement compared to their White counterparts, even when socioeconomic factors are taken into account (Yeung & Conley, 2008). According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 2004) special education law, parents are required participants in the special education process (PL. 108-446).

According to Boyd and Correa's (2005) framework on how families perceive special education, trust is both a direct and indirect factor in how an African American parent is likely to view special education. Trust as it pertains to parent involvement in the special education domain has been a relatively unexplored area in terms of examining parent-school collaboration practices, particularly with African American parents. Therefore, this researcher sought to explore how trust might impact African American parents' participation in special education.

This case study was conducted in a small Midwestern middle school in which 87% of the students were African American, while 70% of the staff was White. Semi-structured interviews were provided to parents that addressed their levels of participation and trust. A grounded theory method was used to interpret results of the study.