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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name



Special Education

First Advisor

Susan Gabel


The purpose of this study is to understand the essences of the lived experience of community members, special education teachers, and students with disabilities in the City of Greenwood (pseudonym) regarding the closure of a small urban school district and its impact on the community. Influenced by Lipman and her studies involving Chicago Public Schools, writings on neoliberalism, and its power to influence the trajectory and fate of urban education spaces, I enhanced the conceptual framework for this study by including school closures and the role neoliberalism plays on predominantly low income, urban communities. Six individuals, Mr. & Mrs. Redmond (community members), Ms. Darcy (special education teacher/administrator), Mr. Campbell (special education teacher), Chase (male student with disabilities), and Ella (female student with disabilities; pseudonyms), participated in the study. These individuals were personally affected by the closing of the school district in 2013. They participated in interviews with semi-structured questions related to their experiences before, during, and after the Greenwood School District closure in 2013.After analyzing the interview transcripts, several common experience patterns were identified consistently across the participants’ narratives. These patterns are categorized as community, school district, and student experiences. Their commentaries regarding the closing and the aftermath were traumatic for all participants, especially students with disabilities. The participants in the study described feelings of confusion, anxiety, fear, and abandonment due to the following: (a) lack of accurate and timely information provided during the closure process; (b) barriers to their ability to fully participate and have a voice throughout the closure process; (c) need for teachers leave established careers and search new jobs; and, (d) students with disabilities being forced from a supportive school environment and life-long friends to a new school environment where they struggled to “fit in.” Limitations of the study include the examination of one closed school district and the small number of participants. Opportunities for future study could include a replication of this study for the purposes of validation and a longitudinal study to investigate the long-term impact of school district closures on students with disabilities.

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