Collaboration with parents of students with Down syndrome: Parental perspectives and leadership implications

Judith Venice Harding, Fordham University


The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore the perspectives of parents of students with Down syndrome in regard to the professional practices that influence their collaboration with school professionals, as well as to solicit their recommendations to promote collaboration and improve services. Professional practices were analyzed with a focus on the critical elements of collaboration: communication, knowledge, respect, trust, equality, and commitment. Participants included six parents of students with Down syndrome who collaborate with school professionals. The professionals’ attributes and actions, based in the schools’ culture and provision of services, both enhanced and hindered collaboration. The implications for leadership that pertain to optimal collaboration with parents of students with Down syndrome revealed in the findings are to: (a) understand parental perceptions of the nature of collaboration as evidenced in the professionals’ interpersonal skills, knowledge, and school’s context, (b) be informed of the diagnosis of Down syndrome and the student’s academic possibilities, (c) ensure that professionals do not make stereotypical assumptions or limit expectations, (d) consider the group dynamics during formal meetings and be sensitive toward parents’ feelings, (e) encourage strong commitment to the child and family through personal involvement, (f) acknowledge parental prerogatives for inclusive services and appropriately address concerns, (g) increase visibility of the special education administrator in meetings and classrooms, and (h) utilize an assessment of professionals’ collaboration skills.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|School administration|Special education

Recommended Citation

Harding, Judith Venice, "Collaboration with parents of students with Down syndrome: Parental perspectives and leadership implications" (2016). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10116312.