What is it about?

This paper examines the experiences of Black parents with their young adult child with a disability's experience with postsecondary planning while in high school. Recommendations provided for school officials, school counselors, and university preparation programs. Black students with disabilities face lower high school graduation rates, more restrictive special education settings, more punitive school discipline thus leading to the preschool to prison pipeline, and other barriers while in high school that detract from equitable, inclusive academic planning and postsecondary planning.

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Why is it important?

As educators and community members, we want to see all high school students successfully matriculate from high school and find their calling by pursuing higher education, work, military, or other avenues. For students with disabilities, especially those who identify as Black/African American, they experience barriers and inequitable outcomes of varying levels and types while in high school. Educational research tends to focus more on quantifiable data that lacks context. A solution to one drowning in mounds of quantitative data is to be curious to seek out the narratives and experiences of Black/African American youth with disabilities and their families. The fourteen parents I interviewed in this qualitative research embodied incomparable resilience, resourcefulness, and resolve to help their child prepare for life after high school. Educators, school administrators, school counselors, school district leaders, elected officials, non-profit leaders, policy makers, and advocates would benefit from listening to, speaking with, and reading the perspectives of Black/African American families as related to their experiences with how they experienced their child with a disability’s postsecondary planning while their child was in high school. Solutions and policies are best created in collaboration with equity-minded educational professionals, scholars, and historically marginalized parent groups, such as Black/African American parents/families of youth with disabilities.


The motivation for this article originated from my own experiences as a special education teacher and a high school counselor working in public schools. The original transcribed interviews amounted to hundreds of pages. I wanted to first publish this work in special education's highly esteemed journal, Exceptional Children. The accounts of the triumphs and trauma endured by the study's participants remains with me and my desire has always been to get their stories out. The challenges they faced should not be occurring anymore and were a shock to learn about. I have immense respect and appreciation for the time, interest, and contributions of each participant. They are true heroes.

Dr. Erin P Kilpatrick
University of Georgia

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Postsecondary Planning Perspectives of Black Parents of Young Adults With High-Incidence Disabilities, Exceptional Children, May 2024, SAGE Publications,
DOI: 10.1177/00144029241247071.
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