Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Patricia R. Leigh

Second Advisor

Lenola Allen-somerville


The majority of today's African American male students in the public school system are in special education classes. As a result, these schools have either struggled to address or have ultimately disregarded the needs of these ethnically and racially diverse students (Artiles & Trent, 1994). I conclude the widespread misuse and unjust implementation of special education practices and minority assignments to special education programs urgently calls for a paradigm shift.

The function of this dissertation is to demonstrate a need for a new theoretical framework for special education. Additionally, it is to develop an inclusive concept of education that will allow for further research and analysis of the overrepresentation of African American males in special education. In this dissertation, I examined the history of special education from the early 1600s until the present day and traced its impact upon African American males in particular. This historical perspective provides insights into how we have arrived at our current situation and, moreover, makes apparent the urgent need for change.

The overall research question in this study investigates the conditions necessary for African American males to successfully attain an equal education. As such, a case study was constructed to research in an urban high school in a Midwestern city which served as the research site. Portraiture methodology, as defined by Lawrence-Lightfoot and Davis (1997), is a qualitative inquiry method that results in a complex and subtle narrative, guided the research and subsequent report of the findings. The theoretical lenses that shaped this research were multiculturalism and Critical Race Theory. The purpose of this research, which utilized a qualitative case study design, was to understand how some schools in urban cities provide their special needs students with an equal education; and consequently, reduce the overrepresentation of African American Males in special education.


Copyright Owner

Vernon Hall



Date Available


File Format


File Size

174 pages