Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education and School of Criminal Justice


Kathleen Kardaras

Committee Member

Matthew Delaney


African American parents, parental involvement, home-based parental involvement, school-based parental involvement, academic socialization, barriers to parental involvement


Parental involvement is a multifaceted construct that includes school-based, home-based, and academic socialization. School-based parental involvement in education has been positively associated with academic achievement for all students. However, educational leaders are challenged to get parents involved in school-based activities, such as the School Site Council, Parent Council, and Open Houses.

The purpose of this qualitative descriptive study is to examine the reasons why African American parents are not fully involved in the policymaking and organizational activities at the target secondary school. This study is guided by the combined conceptual frameworks of Critical Race Theory, the Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler framework, and Epstein’s Overlapping Sphere of Influence. This study has three central research questions: (1) What are African American parents’ perceptions of organizational activities and policymaking at the secondary level? (2) What barriers prevent African American parents from engaging in organizational activities and policymaking at the secondary level? And (3) What are African American parents’ perspectives of the family-school relationship?

Semi structured interviews and focus groups were used to collect data. An interview protocol was developed to guide the interviews and focus groups. Braun and Clark’s data analysis framework was used to analyze interview and focus group transcripts. Findings from the study indicated that African American parents perceived organizational and policymaking activities as important; however, parents perceived supporting the child emotionally as most important at the secondary school level. The following barriers to school-based engagement were identified in this study: intergenerational trauma, communication, work schedule, mental health, and recurring illnesses. Several parents experienced racism, but it was not a barrier to school-based parental involvement for any of the parents in this study. Finally, most parents in the study felt a sense of belonging during their time at their child’s high school and believed that the school could strengthen the family-school partnership by creating a more inclusive environment where all parents feel welcome.

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