Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Leadership


Beth Ferri


Community Cultural Wealth, Constructivist Grounded Theory, Critical Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy, Disability Critical Race Theory, emergent bilinguals labeled as disabled, migration policy and education

Subject Categories

Disability Studies | Education | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Special Education and Teaching


This study explores the needs and experiences of refugee parents of emergent bilingual students labeled as disabled (EB/LADs) and their networks of interpreters and community-based educators. This investigation focuses on the relationships (and disconnects) within these networks related to language, migration, culture, race, disability, and special education experiences in formal and community-based schooling contexts. The bulk of extant scholarship regarding parental experiences in special education typically centers school-based experiences rather than community- and home-based experiences, such as daily acts of nurturing and communication (e.g., Cioè-Peña, 2018). However, school-based spaces, processes, and resources are in many ways inaccessible to EB/LAD families because they implement and uphold expectations and protocols which are rigidly defined by white, Western, middle-class norms for participation and discourse (Ijalba, 2015). As such, this project centers the home- and community-based experiences of refugee EB/LAD parents and community-based educators of EB/LADs through exploring how and under what circumstances they cultivate and engage Community Cultural Wealth (Yosso, 2005) in support of their children labeled as disabled, as well as their needs related to the formal schooling context.Using an integrative theoretical framework, this study addresses the following research questions: (1) What are the needs and experiences of refugee parents of EB/LADs as they navigate disability, education, and institutional processes; and (2) How do community-based education networks assess and address the needs and experiences of refugee parents of EB/LADs? By addressing these questions, this study contributes to the field of education at the crossroads of emergent bilingual education, special education, and critical culturally sustaining practice through qualitative case study. Further, by focusing on the perspectives of members of a refugee community in a sanctuary city in Upstate New York, this study sheds light on the lived realities of the educational programs in which most EB/LADs are enrolled in New York State, as well as the dark patterns which suspend parents and families in surreptitious, proxemic interactions with educators and policymakers. Finally, this study offers recommendations for cultivating supportive critical partnerships between schools and parents of EB/LADs through engaging in a critical reflexive praxis of sanctuary for EB/LADs, their families, and communities.


Open Access