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Description: This presentation will be centered on the research that suggests significant inequities in special education for Black students, the various recommendations given to dismantle these inequities, and how Black parents can advocate for better opportunities for Black children in special education programs.

Learning Objectives:

By end of the program, participants will be able to:

  1. Name and explain at least two aspects of the disproportionality of Black children identified for special education,
  2. Identify the recommendations in place to dismantle these inequities, and
  3. Implement at least one strategy to support Black parents to advocate for equitable solutions.

Trainer: Toyia Williams is the Program Director for Empowered Parents in Community (EPiC), a Durham-based nonprofit organization. EPiC’s mission is to dismantle systemic inequities in education through collective organizing and intentional engagement of Black parents and communities. After seeing clear alignment with her personal goals and values, Toyia joined the EPiC team in 2022 – following a two-decade career in healthcare management – manifesting her dream to work in a profession that would help empower the Black community. As a parent of three children, two of whom attend Durham Public Schools, Toyia has actively used her voice in local social media groups to speak out against systemic racism in the school system and beyond. Her straightforward, honest, pull-no-punches posts have gained significant traction and spurred valuable conversations within the Durham community. She is thrilled to align her skills, experience and passion to help further propel EPiC’s mission and make a positive impact in the Black community.


Garwood, J. D., & Carrero, K. M. (2023). Lifting the voices of black students labeled with emotional disturbance: Calling all special education researchers. Behavioral Disorders, 48(2), 121-133.

Aston, C., & Brown, D. L. (2021). Progress or setback: Revisiting the current state of assessment practices of black children. Contemporary School Psychology, 25(2), 140.

Shiferaw, T. Z. (2022). the missing piece of the puzzle: The intersection of race and special education. The University of the District of Columbia Law Review, 25(1), 1.

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