Publication Date


DOI (Digital Object Identifier)



Leadership and Higher Education


Doctor of Education (Ed.D)

Dissertation Chair

Mikela Bjork, Ph.D.

Committee Members

Brian Charest, Ph.D.

Marjorie McCabe, Ph.D.


Special Education, Parents'/Guardians' Rights, Parents'/Guardians' Perceptions, Parents'/Guardians' Needs


Disability and Equity in Education | Educational Leadership | Special Education and Teaching


The purpose of this study was to uncover the narratives of parents/guardians with students on IEPs to determine their needs and perceptions about the IEP process. The goal of this study was to answer three research questions: 1) How do parents/guardians’ educational experiences affect their ability to navigate the educational system for their child?, 2) What supports are needed by parents/guardians of students with IEPs to support/advocate for their child’s education?, and 3) What are parents/guardians' self-perceptions about their abilities to advocate for their students on IEPs? The researcher developed a narrative methodology design that involved interviewing participants who are parents or guardians of students currently on IEPs in in kindergarten to sixth grade.

Participants in the study were mothers with at least one student on an IEP. They participated in two interviews between February and December 2020. Interviews took place during the COVID-19 pandemic that led to school closures. With the exception of the first interview with Participant 1, all interviews occurred after the school closures. This had some effect on the responses of participants and may have affected the conclusions made. Through the interviews, participants shared their personal school experiences as well as their experiences with the IEP process. The researcher determined the correlation between parents/guardians’ education and their experience with the IEP process, what supports are desired by parents/guardians when working through the IEP process, and what parents/guardians' perceptions of the process are. Parents/guardians’ overall were content with the IEP process as an overall system, but participants did share their struggles with the process and supports they wanted from their students’ schools.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


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