Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


Special Education


Special Education EdD

First Advisor

Xornam Apedoe

Second Advisor

Darrick Smith

Third Advisor

Erin McCloskey


In the U.S. educational system, it is too common to see African American males overrepresented in special education classrooms, including segregated special education settings. African American males continuously experience disproportionate representation and placement in special education, especially under the label of ED (Harry & Anderson, 1994). Twice as many African American students in the United States are receiving services for Emotional Disturbance than their White counterparts.

Students who are labeled with ED have the lowest educational outcomes as well as lower success rates in life than any other disability classification (Merrrell & Walker, 2004). The consequences of the ED label can be devastating for African American males. This qualitative case study aims to fill a gap in the literature by using counter-storytelling, through the theoretical framework of Critical Race Theory, to privilege African American students’ voices in order to develop a further understanding about how the label of Emotionally Disturbed impacts African American males’ educational experiences. The counter-stories collected will inform and serve as a counterbalance to the dominant ideology that that entry into special education provides the effective teaching strategies necessary to serve the needs of students with Emotional Disturbance.