Participation of Puerto Rican parents in special education decision-making in a New York City school district

Sally Lebron Romero, Fordham University


The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of Puerto Rican parents' participation in special education decision-making processes on parental knowledge and satisfaction with special education programs and services in a South Bronx school district in New York City. A 53-item Parent Participation Questionnaire (PPQ) was developed in order to measure the following four variables: (a) socio-demographic characteristics of the subjects, (b) parental participatory behaviors in special education decisions, (c) parental knowledge, and (d) parental satisfaction. The PPQ was administered in group interviews to a sample of Puerto Rican parents of mildly and moderately handicapped elementary school children who had been receiving special education services for a period of 1 or more years. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the data gathered from the 58 completed questionnaires. The frequencies of responses on parental participatory behaviors, parental knowledge of and satisfaction with special education programs and services were analyzed in terms of their distribution among the subjects. Spearman's rho was also used in order to examine the relationships among the variables. The parent profile that emerged from the questionnaire suggested a female at least 26 years old, a resident on the mainland for 10 years or more, an unemployed single head of household with at least three school-aged children, and able to communicate bilingually. Data analysis indicated that parents generally participated in varying degrees in all aspects of the decision-making processes concerning special education planning for their handicapped children and more frequently utilized the informal system of resolving problems locally instead of initiating impartial hearing procedures at the Central Board of Education. Parents exhibited some knowledge regarding the type of special education programs and generally expressed satisfaction with the services their children received. Correlational analysis revealed a positive relationship between parental participation and parental knowledge of special education services. However, parents' level of satisfaction was not significantly related to parental participation or their knowledge of the services received. Unstructured responses to questions on the PPQ revealed parental likes and dislikes regarding special education and elicited recommendations for improving services. Policy and programmatic implications of the study and suggestions for further research were also discussed.

Subject Area

School administration|Special education

Recommended Citation

Romero, Sally Lebron, "Participation of Puerto Rican parents in special education decision-making in a New York City school district" (1989). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9007191.