Date of Award


Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Elizabeth Reilly, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Terese Aceves, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

William Parham, Ph.D., ABPP


Historically, African American male students have been disproportionately overrepresented in special education under the eligibility categories emotional disturbance, and behavior disorders. Additionally, African American male students with disabilities have consistently underperformed academically. If a student does not perceive that the teacher cares for him, it may be more difficult for a teacher to be successful in engaging the student in the learning experience. The literature indicates that care is a basic need that is grounded in relationships. In schools, those relationships are based on the interaction between the student and teacher. There is a lack of data that specifically addresses the care of African American male students with special needs in nonpublic-school settings. This qualitative study utilized interviewing as a methodology to better understand how the care of a teacher supported the educational experience of African American males for the purpose of informing teachers and leaders in how to work with this specific population of students by addressing the following research questions: (a) How do African American male secondary school students with special needs define care? (b) To what extent do African American male secondary school students with special needs’ perceptions of teacher care affect their educational experiences? (c) Based on African American male secondary school students' with special needs perceptions of teacher care, how are the components of the ethic of care demonstrated in the classroom by the teacher? (d) How are the three suppositions of culturally relevant pedagogy demonstrated by the classroom teacher, according to the perceptions of African American male secondary school students with special needs?