Family-School (Dis)Engagement: Understanding What It Is, What It’s Not, and What to Do About It


  • Michelann M. Parr Nipissing University
  • Marianne Vander Dussen



This paper traces the journey of a community of schools, bound together by a geographical radius that sees some students travelling one hour each direction, as they attempt to interrupt institutional discourses and question the assumptions that underlie family-school engagement practices through collaborative inquiry and community-based research. We offer reconsideration of family (dis)engagement, and a set of principles to guide family-school engagement that recognizes the diversity of the relationship, and the need for both families and schools to meet each other where they are, repositioning both parties as partnered, harmonic voices in the education of children. 

Author Biographies

Michelann M. Parr, Nipissing University

Michelann Parr, PhD, is professor at the Schulich School of Education at Nipissing University in North Bay, Ontario. Her research interests include family-school engagement and well-being, text-to-speech technology and its impact on the reading process, and writing as a way of fostering teacher-candidate understanding.  

Marianne Vander Dussen

Marianne Vander Dussen is a recent graduate of the Master of Education program at the Schulich School of Education, Nipissing University.  She is a recipient of the Dave Marshall Leadership Award, and currently works as both a teacher in her local school board and as an independent art instructor in the community. 




How to Cite

Parr, M. M., & Vander Dussen, M. (2017). Family-School (Dis)Engagement: Understanding What It Is, What It’s Not, and What to Do About It. Language and Literacy, 19(1), 48–62.