'It Should Be Teamwork': A Critical Investigation of School Practices and Parent Advocacy in Special Education

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The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) suggests that parents are critical members of the special education system. Through conducting interviews with parents, observing individualised education plan (IEP) meetings, and analysing the discourse between the parent and the professional, this critical qualitative research investigates the parent-school relationship when parents are fighting for more inclusive placements for their children. This study uncovers the bureaucratic processes schools utilise, which do not allow for equitable parent participation in IEP processes including: medical and deficit discourse, professionalised discourse, policy interpretations, and meeting practices. We then describe strategies that parent-advocates use in order to obtain adequate services for their children including: networking, bringing an advocate, and education. We conclude with recommendations for schools and parents which promote enhanced parent-school collaboration throughout IEP planning, with an end goal towards improving educational opportunities for students with disabilities.



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