Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

Rema Reynolds, PhD

Committee Member

Patrice Bounds, PhD

Committee Member

Carmen McCallum, PhD

Committee Member

Theresa Saunders, PhD

Committee Member

Toni Stokes Jones, PhD


The experiences of parents navigating through the K-12 school system as their children with invisible disabilities move toward graduation from secondary education are multifaceted. This qualitative study examined the experiences parents are having or not having at Kalamazoo Central High School (KCHS), a traditional high school within the Kalamazoo Public School (KPS) district. The research questions revealed the experiences of parents navigating their children with invisible disabilities. Conceptually, this study was guided by the ecologies of parental engagement (EPE) framework. The teachings of Pierre Bourdieu and his perspective on social capital were also utilized. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews, member checking, a follow-up interview, and document analysis to provide thorough descriptions of the parents’ experiences. Four participants were selected for the study from flyer advertisements and utilizing the snowball strategy in which individuals referred other participants. Participants were selected for the study based on the following criteria: their children were currently enrolled at KCHS, in the 11th or 12th grade, and had been diagnosed with an invisible disability. A line-by-line analysis of participants’ responses uncovered common themes. The results of this study provided insight on parents’ experiences during their children’s progression toward high school graduation and how interactions with KPS staff, particularly those stationed at KCHS, influenced these transformations. The results of this study contribute to the implementation of progressive changes by providing information to parents and school staff on how to collaborate more effectively with each other for the advancement of children with invisible disabilities.