Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Phil Pendley

Second Advisor

Martinrex Kedziora

Third Advisor

Lafaye Platter


Purpose: The purpose of this phenomenological study was to determine how African American parents of school age children identify and describe the factors that need to be present for African American parents to become engaged in their children’s’ local school and in their children’s education.

Methodology: This qualitative study identified and interviewed 12 African American parents from four school districts in Riverside County in Southern California in order to determine their barriers to school participation. Respondents were chosen using purposeful, convenience and snowball sampling based on specific criteria. The researcher collected data and determined themes in order to report findings and recommendations.

Findings: Examination of this qualitative study from the 16 participants from the 4 school districts participating in this study indicated a variety of findings to include the following: (1) schools need to do more to make them feel welcome, (2) schools need to share important information with African American parents, (3) there are not enough African American staff in schools, (4) school resources are not being used based on student need, (5) school staff do not listen to them like they do to non-African American parents, (6) African American parents need help to effectively access technology, (7) school staff need to increase positive interactions with African American parents, and (8) schools do not appear to care about all students based on the way they treat African American students.

Conclusions: Schools need to create a welcoming atmosphere for African American parents because they do not believe it matters to schools if they are present. In addition, more African American staff need to be on campus. Moreover, participants expressed that African American students need specialized programs and school resources should be targeted toward African American children based upon their needs. Also, African American parents have a lack of technology knowledge and their lack of understanding of, and access to, technology as a barrier to successful participation in their children’s school experience.

Recommendations: Further research is recommended to repeat this study using a larger sample and more African American male parent voice, perspectives of African American teachers, students and district administrators.