School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Sharon Michael-Chadwell


African-American, Caucasian, overrepresentation, special education, teacher perceptions


Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Disability and Equity in Education | Education | Elementary Education and Teaching | Special Education and Teaching


There is a disproportionate amount of African-American males in special education programs. Several factors have been offered by researchers as to why this phenomenon continues to be a problem throughout the county. The purpose of this study was to understand how Caucasian female teachers' perceptions of African-American male students might influence their overrepresentation in special education. This qualitative study employed an ethnographic case study method, and relied primarily on a pilot study and teacher interviews to obtain data related to this phenomenon. Using this research design, the researcher established six themes related to the research phenomenon: (1) cultural discontinuity between Caucasian female teachers and their African-American male students, (2) lack of multicultural and/or diversity training for teachers, (3) Caucasian female teachers' perceptions of colorblindness may influence the research phenomenon, (4) lack of teacher understanding regarding special education and RtI process, (5) gender bias between teacher and student, and lack of male, specifically African-American male, teacher representation in elementary schools, and (6) Caucasian female teachers' low academic/behavior expectations of their African-American male students.