Date of Graduation

Fall 12-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


International and Multicultural Education


International & Multicultural Education EdD

First Advisor

Emma Fuentes

Second Advisor

Rosa Jimenez

Third Advisor

Patrick Camangian


Students of color continue to be labeled with dis/abilities and funneled into segregated settings by special education staff (Annamma, Connor, & Ferri, 2013; Leonardo & Broderick, 2011). The purpose of this study is to highlight the kinds of experiences students and their family’s experience in special education related to humanization and violence. In addition to gaining a better understanding of how special education district staff are working to both reproduce and disrupt the violent exclusion of students of color, this dissertation aimed to center the experiences of parents and students who are being impacted by the exclusionary policies and practices. Using Disability Studies and Critical Race Theory (DisCrit) as a theoretical framework reminds educators that the term disproportionality is a euphemism for the state-sanctioned racist and ableist systemic violence students and parents experience (Artiles et al., 2010). Data was collected through narrative interviews with parents, teachers, and district staff as well as through personal reflections. Participants shared examples of violence dis/abled students experience in schools, ways parents are disregarded, and how school districts continue to disinvest in students and families of color. This study terms their experiences as examples of the kinds of “pathological violence” that are enacted within special education. What also surfaced were examples of critical educators implementing humanizing praxis, which is not often discussed or found in the field of special education.