Health and Well-being Perspectives of African American Learners with Emotional Disturbance Labels: Opportunities for a Population Health Reframing of Special Education Disproportionality
Indar, Gayitri Kavita
University of Kansas
Copyright held by the author.
MetadataShow full item record
Abstract Special education disproportionality, or the over-identification of African American students with an Emotional Disturbance (ED), remains a persistent education issue, with adverse effects on African American learners' life outcomes. Once labeled, African American learners are at an increased risk for disciplinary referrals, low educational attainment, and entrance into the correctional system. Multiple revisions to special education policy (i.e., IDEA) have occurred to address these racial disparities and inequities. However, the ineffectiveness of these policy changes indicated a need to reframe special education disproportionality. This study explored the health and well-being experiences of African American, ED learners to inform a future population health reframing of special education disproportionality. Exploring this possibility was integral to understanding overrepresentation of African American, ED learners given the high concomitance rates between emotional disorders and chronic health conditions. This study used a multi-case study design to center African American, ED learners' voices and exploring the role of health and well-being on their high school academic self-perception, their involvement with the special education system, and their awareness of racism and ableism in the design of their health and education spaces. Using a cross-pollinated version of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), intersectionality, and Disability Critical Race Theory (DisCrit) and analysis was performed on participant data, resulting in five major findings: 1. Participants, educational, healthcare, and familial stakeholders prioritized some health and well-being dimensions more than others. 2. Participants of this study experienced some form of untreated, acute trauma before receiving their ED classification and services. iv 3. Participants had to relinquish their autonomy to utilize the supports of the institutions labeling them, which was perceived as both beneficial and disempowering by participants. 4. Participants were unable to name the racism and ableism in the lived experiences, specifically how these intersecting oppressions affected their educational trajectory. 5. Participants were aware of how their special education labels altered the design of their special education settings, in both stigmatizing and empowering ways. Based on these findings, practice, policy, and research recommendations were made to support a future health and well-being reframing of special education disproportionality. First, it was recommended that the education and health sectors adopt the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Model to ensure a balanced approach to the dimensions of health and well-being. Secondly, the introduction of an Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) category into IDEA was recommended to re-situate deficit in the system rather than the learner. Finally, to efficiently and cost-effectively address the communication gap between health and education stakeholders, digital health technology adoption was recommended.
- Dissertations 
Items in KU ScholarWorks are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.
We want to hear from you! Please share your stories about how Open Access to this item benefits YOU.