Department of Educational Administration


Document Type


Date of this Version



James S. Wright & Taeyeon Kim (2020): Reframing community (dis)engagement: the discursive connection between undemocratic policy enactment, minoritized communities and resistance, Journal of Education Policy, DOI: 10.1080/02680939.2020.1777467


Copyright © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Used by permission.


While studies have examined leadership efforts to improve community engagement, less is known about how deeply rooted structured discourses, systems, and practices influence leadership actions and responses from communities. Deficit approaches to educational policy reform are pervasive in the most historically marginalized communities and school districts in the United States (US). Drawing on critical policy analysis, this study examines a disengaged school district’s leadership of a Federal School Turnaround Policy from the perspectives of minoritized communities in an urban US school district. We analyzed deficit policy discourses, its enactment, and leadership practices using interview data and archived documents. This study found pathological discourses and deficit frames of minoritized communities, embedded in policy enactment, which directly led to leadership practices resulting in community resistance. In this way, we (re)frame disengaged school leadership; the resistance and the tension in response to pathological and deficit structures and ideologies as, at minimum, healthy attempts of redistributing justice and democracy. In addition, our findings highlight that discourses and enactment of turnaround school reforms were intertwined with undemocratic and racialized practices.