Date of Award

Spring 2018

Document Type

Dissertation Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education Policy, Planning, and Administration

Committee Chairperson

Corinne M. Murphy, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Committee Member

Claire Verden, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Siobhan Leavy, Ed.D.


A student’s educational placement should be an IEP team decision driven by the needs of the student in conjunction with the availability of the resources to meet the needs of the student. However, given the individual nature of special education processes, IEP teams may arrive at different decisions for very similar students. Additionally, special education legislation asserts that students must be educated in the Least Restrictive Environment. Existing research related to trends in educational placement has identified large scale factors that may influence educational placement decisions. Other research has focused on small case studies of students, and the specific circumstances that warranted their placement. The purpose of this study is to identify trends across variables for students who are referred to a center-based emotional support program. The collected data is analyzed for program-wide trends as well as trends amongst specific socioeconomic and ethnic groups. Results of the study reveal disproportionality amongst ethnic and socioeconomic groups in relation to specific special education variables. Implications for school districts to improve their practices in meeting the LRE mandates of IDEA are provided, as well as suggestions for future research.