Date of Award

Winter 1-15-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Gail S. Cahill

Second Advisor

Yvonne Y. Liu-Constant

Third Advisor

Catherine K. O'Brien


Abstract In the spring of 2020, the global COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted the world,

including public schools in the United States. During this time, Local Education Agencies (LEA) started to rely on videoconference platforms for Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings. This phenomenological study investigated the experience of 12 participants, 7 school staff, and 5 parents from public schools in Connecticut. Three guiding questions focused on the participants’ experiences during the pandemic regarding: 1) the various ways they establish partnerships that bridge home and school as children transition from early intervention to school-based programming; 2) the factors and conditions they believe are barriers to family input into the IEP process for children during the transition; and 3) the extent digital conferencing tools positively and negatively affected family-school partnerships while developing IEPs for children during the transition. Participants identified that videoconference IEP meetings were convenient and efficient, logistically the meetings started and ended as scheduled, and all parties felt like their input was captured and incorporated into the initial IEP document. The IEP teams relied on anecdotal information gathered during the videoconference to support initial assessment results, often administered remotely, and used for identification. Participants also shared that convenience came at the cost of face-to-face connection. This study recommends that school leaders develop systems to explain the specifics of the IEP document to family members as children transition from early intervention to preschool special education programming, as well as implement individualized practices to ensure that family members and school staff have face-to-face interactions as children begin attending public school, the foundational time in the development of family-school partnerships.

Keywords: family engagement, family-school partnerships, transition between early intervention and preschool programming, videoconference platform IEP meetings, virtual special education meetings

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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