Education Doctorate

Year Approved


First Advisor

Michael Lindstrom

Second Reader

Craig Paulson

Third Reader

Michael Van Keulen


The purpose of this study was to investigate the perceptions of Somali parents about the Parent Academy program in Saint Paul Schools and whether it impacted their school engagement capacity. The research was a qualitative phenomenological study. The research established a common definition of parent engagement as an intentional active work parents and schools undertake together to support student achievement. The research methodology involved data collection through pre/post-survey questionnaires and semi-structured focus group discussions. The data was then analyzed with a combination of labeling, sorting, and coding of the main themes. The study findings were narrowed down to three main themes with subcategories. The overarching themes were: perceptions about the Parent Academy program were positive; the Parent Academy program had changed participants’ parent engagement perspectives; participants believed that their school engagement capacity had increased but systemic barriers still remained. The participants shared that the Parent Academy helped them to learn how to navigate the school system and relate to their children more effectively. The researcher hopes that this modest contribution to the field of parent engagement will ignite discussions, spark further research, and change practices to address the needs of parents to serve their children better in the public school systems. Enhanced parent engagement capacity is an equity prerogative for a welcoming school culture and successful student achievement.

Degree Name

Education Doctorate

Document Type

Doctoral dissertation