Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education



First Advisor

Dr. Shelly Fransen

Second Advisor

Dr. Sherry DeVore

Third Advisor

Dr. Kathy Grover


Millions of children with disabilities have benefited from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (United States Department of Education [USDOE], 2010). However, the law has also been a source of frequent litigation and conflict between schools and parents (Mueller, 2015; Pudelski, 2016). This study was initiated to examine the perceptions of special education directors regarding the effectiveness of alternative dispute resolution practices. Data for this study were acquired using a semi-structured interview guide designed to elicit special education directors’ perspectives on the shared experience of parent-school conflict. Results indicated special education directors utilize three standard practices to prevent or ameliorate parent-professional disputes at the earliest stages of conflict: relationship building, clear communication, and valuing the parent as an Individual Education Plan (IEP) team member. Building upon the results, two implications for future practice were proposed. The first recommendation was for school districts to provide all building staff and parents/guardians with professional development on IEP team roles and duties. The IEP process requires parents and school employees to work together; however, early career special education instructors frequently report lacking the skills, attitudes, knowledge, and confidence needed to form collaborative relationships with parents during the IEP process (Jones & Peterson- Ahmad, 2017). Second, districts should monitor the delivery of special education and related services to ensure services and supports outlined in the IEP are provided and that students are progressing toward IEP goals.


Copyright 2022, Julie Voyles.

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