Speak, review, change, repeat: an analysis of discourse surrounding dilemmas at admission, review, and dismissal meetings


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A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership.
The purpose of this study was to understand the ways in which three parents of students with disabilities and three public school campus administrators negotiated dilemmas through discourse during Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) meetings in a South Texas public school district. The participants in this study included the stakeholders in ARD meetings who work together to construct Individualized Educational Program (IEP) for students with special needs. Direct participants were parents and administrators at the meeting while indirect participants were other stakeholders present at the meeting. Informed by Grounded Practical Theory and Action Implicative Discourse Analysis, this qualitative study explored the ways in which participants utilized various discursive positions to dis/agree with each other, reflect on their positions, and identify their ideals and roles they play in ARD meetings. The findings of this study highlight the difference between the role participants play in ARD meetings and how they conceptualize their idealized situation and actions in these meetings. Discrepancies in idealization and practice were used as points of reflection to identify conceptual recommendations for conflict management. Additionally, findings indicated that participants' disposition and state of mind with which they entered the ARD meeting were key to the outcome of the meeting. Participants used various discursive strategies to manage their dilemmas. A shared point of dilemma was identified by parents and administrators that called for more parental participation, even if parental agreement was not achieved. Data revealed that participants often shared the same ideals but how such ideals manifested varied. Various dilemmas were identified that prevented the stakeholders from acting accordingly in what theyconsidered to be the best interest of the student. For administrators these were constraints on time, resources, fear of litigation, and navigating a demanding workload. For parents, these were lack of understanding, communication, and not being considered as equal partners in their child's educational programming. Implications for this study raise questions about academic training in teacher education and educational leadership programs. Moreover, issues of professional development and the role of discourse in conflict management are raised as a result of this study.
Educational Leadership, Curriculum & Instruction
College of Education and Human Development