Abstract

The initial special education identification process (SPED IDP) determines which students have disabilities and corresponding rights to IDEA supports. However, the disproportionate identification of Black, Indigenous Students of Color (BISOC) as emotionally disturbed necessitates the problematizing of special education structures within the SPED IDP. This critical analysis of current norms of practice within SPED IDP structures discusses hidden ideologies of Whiteness, ableism, and racism. I apply DisCrit and Whiteness Studies frameworks to interrogate power within three SPED IDP structures (a) multidisciplinary team (MDT) decision-making, (b) social–emotional–behavioral (SEB) assessments and data collection, and (c) categorical identification of emotional disturbance (ED). I include critical reflection on my professional practice in elementary schools, consider my complicity as a member of MDTs, and offer critical questions for practitioners.

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