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Parental Engagement at a Hartford public elementary school has decreased. This is cause for concern because parental engagement is critical to the academic success of children (Jeynes, 2012). This study therefore addresses the question: What are the barriers to effective communication between public school educators and the families they serve? It is argued that communication dysfunction between families and schools can contribute to an increase in “negative social capital” and in turn produce barriers to successful collaboration between schools and families. Through in-depth interviews and participant-observations at school events, this study shows that the formation of “negative social capital” creates a greater disconnect between the school and the home by reinforcing a relationship built on distrust and miscommunication. The lack of communication exists because the school has difficulties addressing the needs of parents. Language barriers further hinder equal partnership between staff and families. The goal of this research is increased parental involvement in the educational process. The mechanism to achieve this goal is effective collaboration with bilingual parents.


Community Partner: A Hartford Public School