Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


Leadership Studies


Organization & Leadership EdD

First Advisor

Walter Gmelch

Second Advisor

Patricia Mitchell

Third Advisor

Richard Greggory III


Meaningful parental engagement has historically been identified as the root cause of the United States’ academic achievement gap in African American education. However, the systematic structures that impose difficulties for African American’s access to education in school and other aspects of their social development must be addressed to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges these African American families face. Society must consider the perpetual marginalization of not only African American students’ academic experiences, but also their professional and personal development as well. The parental engagement with educators in the San Francisco K-8 schools, has not been studied. The purpose of this qualitative study explores the benefits of meaningful parental engagement to African American students as a variable in promoting student achievement in a San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) school. Epstein’s framework provides a structure to underpin this proposal with the six types of parental involvement to explore the experiences of African American families with K–8 educators. The study aims to understand hurdles to parental involvement, best practices, benefits, and ways the community and educational staff can help African American families feel more welcome. The study found that three themes of parental engagement for African American families and educators with significant correlation emerged: communication, cultural competency, and social justice. Research questions were developed to focus on African American parents and educators within the K–8 system and sought to address parental involvement, barriers, and multiple forms of engagement. This dissertation, written under the direction of the candidate’s dissertation committee and approved by the members of the committee, has been presented to and accepted by the Faculty of the School of Education in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education. The content and research methodologies presented in this work represent the work of the candidate alone.