Date of Award


Degree Type



Education and Human Services

First Advisor

Stahlman, Judy

Subject Headings

Special education -- Ohio -- Euclid, Children with disabilities -- Education -- Ohio -- Euclid, Racism in education -- Ohio -- Euclid, Ohio -- Special education, Disproportionality, Special education, Disproportionate representation, Minority issues in special education, Racism in special education, Electronic books. local


This case study examines the problem of disproportionality in special education in an urban school district in Northeast Ohio. Disproportionality occurs when the risk for being identified in a particular disability category is not proportional to the population being considered. The problem of disproportionate representation of racial groups in certain categories of special education is significant because it is only seen in the "judgemental" categories. That is, categories such as ED and SLD, where the determination for eligibility is subjective and based on professional judgement and inference, as opposed to non-judgemental categories such as OHI, blindness, deaf, orthapaedic and TBI, which have known organic causes. African-American students were found to be disproportionately represented in the categories of Emotional Disturbance (ED) and Cognitive Disability (CD). Through interviews and surveys with teaching staff and school psychologists, the influence of teacher beliefs and biases that impact the identification and referral of students to special education were revealed

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