Date of Award

Summer 8-2016

Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Franca Dell'Olio

Second Advisor

Angela Bass

Third Advisor

Ref Rodriguez


Parental engagement with schools is often considered one of the major contributing factors to a child’s success in school. There is not, however, a definition of parental engagement that takes into account the social, historical, and cultural factors that shape a parent’s view of their own engagement. This qualitative case study examines how African American parents in a high poverty, urban, charter middle school, come to understand practices and beliefs at their child’s school, while building relationships with other parents and school staff. Through the lenses of critical race theory and cultural-historical activity theory, the researcher analyzes how the convergence of race, power, history, and culture frame perspectives of policy makers, those who work in schools, and parents. Through the voices of African American parents, in a socioeconomically disadvantaged school community, they define their own engagement.