U.S. education policy acknowledges the troubling differential rates of special education identification and placement
for students who are culturally and linguistically diverse by requiring states to review annually student identification
data from all local education agencies to identify and address disproportionate representation. Yet little is known about the interaction between families that are culturally and linguistically diverse and the service providers they encounter at their local schools. The authors examine those relationships in South Africa and the United States, two countries where the legacy of racism lingers in the ways in which school personnel and families negotiate differences in how children are viewed, assessed, and offered support for learning needs. In both countries, sustained efforts from families and school personnel were needed to develop supports and services that worked well for students with disabilities and their families.