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Citation:Sanders, M. G. (2000). Creating successful school-based partnership programs with families of special needs students. The School Community Journal, 10(2), 37-56.

The purpose of this case study is to learn from schools that have used an action team approach and EpsteinÕs (1995) framework of six types of involvement to develop school-family-community partnership programs focused on students with special needs. Results indicated that school membersÕ positive attitudes facilitated positive communications with families and community members, created a climate for collaborative decision-making, and promoted collective support of studentsÕ learning and progress. Parents of students in this study gained information and confidence to advocate more effectively for their children. Students benefited from the activities focused on promoting student progress. Data were collected from two urban schools that were identified as having excellent partnership programs, as defined by the National Network of Partnership Schools. Both schools served children between the ages of 6-14 who experienced one or more developmental disabilities. Both schools served about 70 students, the majority of whom were African American (97.7%). Data triangulation included interviews, observations, and school documents. Creating avenues for communication, opening doors for decision-making, and promoting pathways for student progress emerged as processes central to the schoolsÕ success in developing positive, comprehensive, and inclusive partnerships.

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