Parents' Views of and Participation in the Special Education Process
Parents� views of and participation in the special education process are important in light of parents� expanded membership in all decision making groups, specifically those that make eligibility and placement decisions guaranteed by The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997 (IDEA �97). The purpose of this study was to understand how parents view the special education process and their participation from their child�s referral to eligibility determination. Furthermore, this study sought to determine how parents� understanding and participation in the special education process could be enhanced.
Nine parents� journeys through the special education referral and evaluation process were chronicled through pre-and post-eligibility parent interviews and observations of eligibility meetings. This data was contexualized through educator post-eligibility interviews to determine representativeness of parents� participation and meeting characteristics.
Individual and cross case analyses were used to analyze data. Findings indicate that little has changed in the past 25 years in the day-to-day implementation of the special education evaluation process. That is, parents know little of the process and participate minimally. Furthermore, parents express feelings about their child and the process that indicate that they care deeply and feel a vested interest in outcomes. However, parents express a need for greater understanding and participation in the process. A model for the effective implementation of the special education process is offered.