According to Waters (1999), Haitian children are the most stigmatized in school of all the Afro-Caribbean groups. In urban public schools, they lag behind academically and have major social adjustment problems. Of the research that is available, much points to the crisis and negotiation of identity in American schools as the major struggles to be overcome (Stepick, 1998; Zephir, 1996; Stafford, 1987; Woldemikael, 1989; Laguerre, 1998; Glick-Shiller & Fouron, 2001). Though researchers suggest identity crisis as important elements of Haitian students' experience of schooling, researchers do not agree on where the "crises" are located-in identity or in experience pre-or pos-migration-and even fewer researchers have examined what these crises look like (Stepick, 1998; Zephir, 1996; Stafford, 1987; Woldemikael, 1989; Laguerre, 1998; Glick-Shiller & Fouron, 2001).
Middle school can be an especially difficult time for many children as they struggle to meet extra academic demands and avoid new social pitfalls. This study will examine how Haitian immigrant middle school children understand their ethnic identity. The study will be a qualitative case study using grounded theory. Qualitative research is significant in a school context because it draws on a detailed, holistic picture of the context, analyzes words and thoughts of the informant, and the study is conducted in a natural setting (Creswell, 2007). In qualitative inquiry, grounded theory approach is used to create meaning as data is collected to analyze the responses to open-ended and semi-structured interview questions and observation (Lofland & Lofland, 1995; Mils & Huberman, 1994; Charmaz, 2000). The objective of the proposed case study is to obtain a broader understanding of Haitian students' ethnic identity in order to provide a framework to support their transition to U.S. schools.