Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Joyce King

Second Advisor

Richard Lakes

Third Advisor

Janice Fournillier

Fourth Advisor

Kristen Buras


School-to-prison pipeline research and scholarship point to a need for parent and community involvement in addressing school discipline policies and culturally sensitive approaches to reducing disparities in school discipline. My research examined how members of a parent community organization worked to raise parents' awareness about and engage them in school discipline reform, including culturally sensitive approaches. I developed a culturally centered research study that privileged my participants’ cultural and epistemological positions. The primary data sources were qualitative interviews and documents. A thematic analysis revealed that the participants’ cultural heritage formed the foundation for the organization’s work. Key organizational processes identified include raising awareness by learning new information, linking to community resources to engage in advocacy and build power, and leading parents through inquiry-based activism. Organizational learning and program adjustments showed promise of parents’ ability to influence local school district educational practices.