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A Health and Well-being Reframing for the Persistent Issue of Disproportionality in Special Education
American Educational Research Association (AERA) (2020)
  • Gayitri Kavita Indar, Molloy College
The association between chronic health conditions and Serious Emotional Disorders has been established in health research (Byles et al., 2013; Combs-Orme, Heflinger, and Simpkins, 2002; Egede & Dismuke, 2012; Gariepy, Wang, Lesage, & Schmitz, 2009). However, many of these studies have favored quantitative methodologies, been conducted outside of the United States with individuals over the age of 18, and limited its implications to the field of health. This study began to bridge these gaps between health and special education
by examining the current literature across the two domains and identifying areas where increased
interdisciplinary collaboration could occur. Secondly, this study expanded qualitative
understandings of school health, extended it beyond school nursing and immunizations, and
connected the multiple dimensions of health (e.g., physiological, mental, emotional) to learner perceived
instructional practices and outcomes. Moreover, it prioritized the learning-health and
well-being connection that is present, but often unacknowledged, as an evaluation criterion
across multiple special education policies, beyond just Section 504 (34 C.F.R. Part 104.4).
Finally, this study had implications for school health resources, which has typically focused on
building-wide cultural shifts rather than practices targeting learner educational performance or
instruction. By centering Black learners at the intersection of ableism and racism, this study
uncovered descriptive data that revealed unanticipated, intersecting health and education
considerations that should be proactively designed for. In doing so, I introduce possible
pathways to meet their converging interests, and potentially prevent the initial misinterpretation
and subsequent referral for-and identification into- detrimental special education categories, such
as Emotional Disturbance.
  • Chronic Health Conditions,
  • Special Education Disproportionality,
  • Emotional Disturbance
Publication Date
Spring April 18, 2020
Citation Information
Gayitri Kavita Indar. "A Health and Well-being Reframing for the Persistent Issue of Disproportionality in Special Education" American Educational Research Association (AERA) (2020)
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