School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Barbara Jordan-White


divorced, fathers, high school, maternal gatekeeping, middle school, parental involvement


Education | Educational Leadership | Junior High, Intermediate, Middle School Education and Teaching | Secondary Education and Teaching | Student Counseling and Personnel Services


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand how divorced fathers perceive their role in the education of their middle or high school child. The central focus of this study was: How do divorced fathers describe the roles they play in their child's education? The following questions guided the study: (a) How do divorced fathers describe the role they play in their child's education? (b) What are the factors that influence a divorced father's role in his child's education? (c) What can schools do to facilitate involvement of divorced fathers in their child's education throughout secondary schools? The co-researchers of this study were divorced fathers with joint custody of their middle or high school student. Data was collected through surveys, semi-structured interviews, and focus groups. Interviews were transcribed and emerging themes were used to structure questions for the focus group sessions. Results of the study revealed that the fathers accepted a large responsibility for being knowledgeable about and engaged in their child's education. It was noted that fathers felt their child's mother exercised some form of maternal gatekeeping over knowledge surrounding their children's education. There also was a general lack of knowledge surrounding school policy for communication with parents. Some fathers also mentioned a uninviting and even rude atmosphere from schools toward their attempts at father involvement. In summary, there were many obstacles fathers believed they must overcome in order to remain attentive to their child's needs.