Cuba helping Portland schools improve services, support for multilingual students with disabilities

University of Maine assistant professor of special education Melissa Cuba and Adai Tefera, an associate professor of special education at the University of Arizona, have been awarded $50,000 from the William T. Grant Foundation for a collaborative study with Portland Public Schools. Their work aims to reduce administrative burdens and reimagine engagement with families of multilingual students who receive special education services in the schools.

The two year project will examine the policies and practices that lead to inequities for multilingual families and their children with disabilities. In addition, it will explore ways that immigrant and migrant families can codesign better approaches for serving their children. Another goal of the study will be to look at intersections of disability, language, immigration and migration to better understand how they contribute to administrative burdens. 

Starting this fall, Cuba and Tefera will work to build connections between scholars, families and educators in Portland schools.

“We’re thrilled to have the support of the William T. Grant Foundation for this project and we look forward to working with families, educators, schools and communities to center the needs of multilingual learners in special education,” Cuba says.

Cuba and Tefera recently published a study in Teachers College Record that applied an intersectional framework to data about multilingual students with disabilities in Virginia, where Cuba completed her doctoral studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. More information about Cuba’s research is available online.