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Date of Award

Spring 5-19-2021

Author Requested Restriction

Open Access (no restriction)

Work Type

Dissertation in Practice

Degree Name

Doctor of Educational Leadership (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Robert MacGregor

Second Advisor

Dr. Gordon Brobbey

Third Advisor

Dr. Thomas Bellamy


Despite disability advocacy, case law, and legislative attempts to regulate equity in placement, students of color with disabilities are removed from general education settings at higher rates than peers. Ongoing advocacy to extend legal protections and utilize dispute resolution procedures contributed to special education’s reputation for being litigious. This study included a recent review of literature on landmark education cases and litigation using a symbolic organization framework to analyze special education placement procedures, disputes, and decisions. The theoretical frameworks of Critical Race Theory and Dis/ability Critical Race Studies offered a critique of special education placement and outcomes and rebutted symbolic responses to persistently discrepant data. A review of promising practices examined opportunities for engaging culturally and linguistically diverse families in special education placement decisions. The study involved evaluability assessment, a form of program evaluation to analyze design and implementation of Washington state’s Inclusionary Practices Project, which provided grant funding and professional development supports to 100 pilot districts. The study helped refine the program theory for the Inclusionary Practices Project and offered conclusions about current implementation and future scalability around three central themes: centering equity, supporting inclusionary practices, and shaping impact. It also supported the identification of next steps for program design evaluation of state-level initiatives.