Parent Agency and Family-School Partnerships: Animating Diverse Enactments for (Special) Education Decision-Making

Amanda L. Miller, University of Kansas
Hailey R. Love, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Jennifer A. Kurth, University of Kansas
Alison L. Zagona, University of New Mexico


Family-school partnerships between family members and school personnel can be successful as well as unproductive for parents who have children and youth with developmental disabilities (DD). This qualitative study sought to capture parents' identities as they negotiated family-school partnerships when making inclusive education decisions and discussing special education service-delivery options for their children and youth with DD. Seventeen participants shared their personal narratives in interviews and focus groups. Data were thematically analyzed after an initial round of open-coding generated broad themes. Findings revealed that the experiences parents have in partnering with schools span an identity spectrum, including (a) victim, (b) advocate, (c) perseverer, (d) educator, (e) broker and negotiator, and (f) surrenderer. Implications for policy, practice, and research focus on parent identity and family-school partnerships.