The impact of teacher demographics on the overrepresentation of African American males in special education in a coastal school district
African American students make up 17% of the public school population nationwide. Ironically, 41% percent of students in special education are African American (Kunjufu, 2005). The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of teacher demographics on the overrepresentation of African American males in special education in a coastal school district. Furthermore, this study examined the perception of teachers at different grade levels to see if there was a difference between elementary and secondary teachers' perceptions. According to the literature, African American males are overrepresented in special education placement throughout the United States' public school systems. Therefore this study was designed to investigate factors that may influence teachers' decisions to recommend students for special education services. The target population for this study was all regular education teachers in one coastal school district. The instrument used in this study was a 34-item survey that was developed to study the perception of educators about the overrepresentation of African American male students in special education. The data concluded there was an overrepresentation of African American males in special education, with African American males having a 32% population in the special education, yet only being represented at 26% in the general population. In addition to this finding in the data, it was also discovered that White males were overrepresented in the district as well. White males made up 20% of the general population, but yield a 29% population in special education. The results of the study also indicated there was a correlation between some teacher demographics and overrepresentation of Black males in special education. Specifically, the ethnic group Asian and Pacific Islanders showed a significant impact on the perception of African American males in special education. Moreover, the results indicated there was a significant difference between grade level perceptions about African American males in special education, with the elementary having a higher perception percentage. Lastly the research implies that secondary teachers are more likely to agree with the factors that contribute to the overrepresentation of Black males in special education than the elementary teachers.