Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Andrea Disque

Second Advisor

Chad Wallis


Rural school districts often face unique challenges such as limited resources, attracting and retaining qualified teachers, and varied offerings of professional development opportunities and training. This study substantiated these challenges and revealed the challenges presented when educators do not consider the cultural and linguistic factors that exist among the student population when considering academic and behavioral interventions. This qualitative investigation explored how general education teachers in a public school district in the northeastern United States experienced the special education eligibility process for African American/Black and Hispanic/Latino students in a rural community. Guided by the theories of intersectionality and systems view of school climate, and employing a phenomenological analysis, this study addressed the lack of professional development training programs related to academic and behavioral interventions as part of the special education eligibility process and gaps in literature related to African American/Black and Hispanic/Latino students in rural communities. Analysis of semi structured interviews with eight public school general educators who had experience in working with African American/Black and Hispanic/Latino students yielded three findings. The research questions focused on the special education eligibility process for African American/Black and Hispanic/Latino students, their understanding of the function of academic and behavioral interventions in the eligibility process, and the role that cultural factors within a rural community serve in determining special education eligibility. The participants’ answers revealed (a) the need for increased professional development and training in academic and behavioral interventions, (b) consistent application of these interventions as part of the prereferral process in special education eligibility, and (c) the need for increased awareness of school personnel about cultural factors that impact African American/Black and Hispanic/Latino students’ academic and social-emotional progress. The findings of the current research study suggest that changes must be made in how teachers are trained in academic and behavioral interventions and how to create a culturally responsive educational learning environment for students who are historically overrepresented in receiving special education services.


Ed.D. Dissertation

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