Date of Award


Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Magaly Lavadenz

Second Advisor

Elvira Armas

Third Advisor

Antonia Darder


English Learners represent 18.6% of the entire California public school population or 1.1 million students; 81.4% speak Spanish (California Department of Education [CDE], 2021b). Historically, English Learners have experienced inequitable educational opportunities when compared to their English-only counterparts in California (Gándara & Contreras, 2010; Gándara et al., 2003; Perez Huber et al., 2015; Rumberger & Gándara, 2004), which has led to low educational achievement CDE, 2019a; Gándara & Mordechay, 2017; Olsen, 2010). To address underserved students’ inequitable educational opportunities throughout California, then-Governor Edmund G. Brown signed into law the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) in 2013. The LCFF provides equitable funding to schools that serve targeted student groups, including low-income students, foster youth, and English Learners. As part of the policy, the State mandates that districts engage local stakeholders (e.g., families, students, and community members) in the development of the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) (EC 52060). The LCAP is a three-year plan where districts document the strategies and funding allocations they will complete for the school year, with a concentrated effort to provide equitable opportunities for targeted subgroups, such as English Learners. Latino parent leaders historically have experienced barriers in the parent engagement process (Olivos, 2004, 2006).

This phenomenological study used the critical methodology of testimonios to document the experiences of Latina parent leaders in their participation in the LCAP process. The study recruited eight parent leaders across four districts in Los Angeles County. The findings from this study emphasize that the school system is not neutral. Instead, it is an instrument of cultural hegemony, which negatively impacted the Latina parent leaders’ meaningful engagement in the LCAP process. The testimonios revealed the importance of community organizations in the LCAP experience for Latino parent leaders and their ability to help disrupt the school system’s power imbalance.