Date of Award

Spring 5-13-1998

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work

First Advisor

Edward Skarnulius

Second Advisor

Glenda Dewberry-Rooney

Third Advisor

Jody Dunlap


Nationally African American males are disproportionately represented in special education programs. The city of Minneapolis closely mirrors the national trend in this regard. According to the Minneapolis Board of Education black males represent 40 percent of the enrollees in the learning disability, and educational behavior disorder classrooms, even though they are only 21 percent of the total school population. Research in this area is important because if black males are inappropriately assessed for special education placements, it may lead to the following: 1) academic and social segregation from their mainstream peers; 2) inappropriate labeling and education of African American males; and the perpetuation of life choice inequality and limitation of vocational opportunity. In order to assess the perceived causes and possible solutions to this concern interviews were conducted involving educational professionals, social workers, and parents who are/were involved with the Minnesota public school system. A guided interview format was used and the themes investigated were the perceptions of the influences of race, parenting, teacher expectation, and gender on the referrals of African American males to special education. The participants share their evaluations of the current system, and suggestions for future improvements. The findings of the literature review and the qualitative research revealed the following: 1) In most instances once African American boys are labeled EBD they are placed in a closed and segregated system until they drop-out or graduate, 2) There are more factors involved in labeling an African American boy EBD besides his observable behaviors 3) African American parents and teachers often have behaviors that place black boys at risk for special education placement.


SC 11.MSW.1998.Lewis.LK

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