Graduation Year


Document Type

Master's Thesis


Master of Science



Program Director

Jennifer Lucko, PhD

First Reader

Katherine Lewis, PhD

Second Reader

Zoee Bartholomew, EdD


The purpose of this research is to understand how to improve collaboration between schools and culturally and linguistically diverse parents of students with extensive support needs who receive special education services. Previous research defined collaboration as a conceptual construct in which principles of shared respect and responsibility are applied to practice (Emmons & Zager, 2018). The collaboration between families and schools is legally mandated but not explicitly explained to teachers or parents how to succeed in engaging respectfully with all families (Cheatham & Lim-Mullins, 2018). The increased complication of supporting nondominant, culturally and linguistically diverse families in addition to the complexity of extensive support needs of many students in special education add additional barriers to successful and balanced collaboration (Harry, 2008). The reviewed research does not address the multifaceted aspects of collaboration and how CLD parents struggle to feel like an integral part of the team, especially those parents of students with extensive support needs (Olivos, Gallagher, & Aguilar, 2010). The goal for this study was to understand how to achieve equitable collaboration that improves student outcomes. This qualitative study surveyed five Spanish speaking parents (four women and one man) and eleven teachers (four men and seven women) and included interviews with two parents (one man and one woman), all from the same non-public school. The findings document how collaboration is defined by parents and teachers and that communication is a building block for collaboration. Findings also highlight barriers to collaboration and effective strategies for equitable collaboration. This project’s findings are significant in that there are implications for equity of collaboration between parents and schools with a concentrated focus on the CLD parents of students with extensive support needs.

IRB Number