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School Disaster Needs for Students with Disabilities: Voices from the Field

  • Author(s): Barnes, Jill M.
  • Advisor(s): McDonough, Patricia M;
  • Eisenman, David P
  • et al.


School Disaster Needs for Students with Disabilities: Voices from the Field


Jill Maria Barnes

Doctor of Education

University of California, Los Angeles, 2013

Professor David Paul Eisenman, Co-chair

Professor Patricia M. McDonough, Co-chair

The purpose of this dissertation was to identify aspects of disaster care for students with disabilities that are of concern to representatives of various stakeholder groups. This phenomenological research examined the experiences and expertise of 22 parents and professionals who identified school-based disaster needs and recommendations for schools that serve students with disabilities. The views of these parents and professionals were explored through approaches to the theory of distributive justice. Interviews were conducted using a one-on-one, semi-structured interview protocol with a variety of personnel from a large, urban, southern California school district, district-level education offices, local government agencies, and parents. Schools were purposefully selected, and included two special education centers with student populations comprised entirely of students with multiple, severe disabilities, and one comprehensive, general education high school that included several special education classes and other students with disabilities.

Data were analyzed into five categories. Findings followed each of three research questions: disaster needs for schools serving students with disabilities, disaster recommendations for schools serving students with disabilities, and stakeholder alignment with approaches to distributive justice and disaster resource allocation. Two categories of emergent findings centered on the disaster experiences of participants, and participants' knowledge of school disaster preparedness. One intriguing finding showed that school staff exhibit collective resilience. This research will be used to inform future disaster planning for school districts and local governments.

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