Date of Award

11-2015

Culminating Project Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Educational Administration and Leadership, K-12: Ed.D.

Department

Educational Administration and Higher Education

College

School of Education

First Advisor

John Eller

Second Advisor

Janine Dahms-Walker

Third Advisor

Kay Worner

Fourth Advisor

Roger Worner

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Parent Involvement Practices, Special Education Programs, Minnesota online elementary schools

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the Special Education coordinators’ and directors’ perceptions of current parent involvement practices in special education programs provided to Special Education students at select Minnesota online elementary schools. There were seven Special Education directors and coordinators of Minnesota online elementary schools interviewed for this study.

The literature review revealed a lack of published information related to parent involvement framework in the area of special education in both traditional and online schools. Several articles reviewed by the researcher referred to Epstein's Six Types of Involvement Framework. Therefore, this comparative case study used Epstein's Six Types of Involvement as a framework.

The findings revealed strong parent involvement practices related to decision-making, learning at home, and communications. The findings also detailed that parent involvement in parenting, volunteering, and collaborating with community were not viewed as strong practices.

Epstein’s framework was designed with traditional schools in mind. It presented valuable suggestions that can be implemented in both general and special education programs offered in brick and mortar schools. But, this framework needed to be revised to accommodate the modality of online schools and how they offer services to students with special needs.

The findings also divulged the following challenges: parents’ understanding of the content and nature of online education, the responsibility of the parent to serve as a learning coach, the availability or lack of availability of needed services in the student location, student truancy issues, challenges in communication with select parents, challenges in obtaining services provided by the student’s home district, time management problems related to students’ login and assignment completion, and parents’ feelings of intimidations by school staff.

This research study revealed the following challenges related to online education and parent involvement: communication struggles between school and families, the availability of required services for special needs students, and the understanding of what online education truly is.

Finally, the findings highlighted advantages of customizing learning materials to fit students’ needs, the ease with which enrollment occurs, the provision of informative orientation that included parents’ training, and teachers’ advocacy for students with special needs.

Comments/Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements

This was a journey with many ups and downs. But thank God, it ended up being a remarkable experience.

Many thanks to:

My wonderful wife, who is so gentle, yet so strong. Without your support, I won’t be who I am.

Alharith who I cannot wait for him to grow, so I can teach you everything I know.

Shaheen who brought a purpose for my life. I will fight your battles until you can.

Cohort four colleagues, professors, and committee, who always made me feel I belong.

My parents and other mentors through the years,

I hope that I made you proud.

A Special Thanks to

Professors Kay and Roger Worner for their support, and critique, through this journey. My co-researcher, William DeWitt for all his support, collaboration, and motivation. My colleague Durwin Hermanson for introducing Epstein's Framework. My colleague Travis for his support and proofreading every final draft in red.

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