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Can Parents Observe Children’s Classrooms & Placements?

by Wrightslaw

Do I have a right to observe the class before agreeing (or not agreeing) to a placement for my child? The special ed director said I cannot observe the class because of confidentiality issues with the other children.

Some schools take the position that parents and/or their representatives cannot observe a child in the classroom because this would violate the privacy of other children.

Do all public school students have privacy rights? Do children with disabilities have different privacy rights that require schools to educate them in secret?

Does the the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act provide a right for parents to observe their children’s classrooms or proposed placements?

Does the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) prohibit parents or their professional representatives from observing a child in a special education or regular classroom?

What do you think?

For answers to these and other questions about confidentiality and student privacy (and useful strategies if you encounter this problem), read Parent Observations v. Student Confidentiality by Pete and Pam Wright at

You’ll also learn about parental rights to observe your child’s classroom from an unexpected source – the No Child Left Behind Act!

Recommended Resource: In response to requests from the Education Law Center, the U. S. Department of Education clarified parental observations of children under the IDEA and student confidentiality under FERPA.

Read Answers to Questions about Parent Observations, Privacy and Confidentiality from the U.S. Dept of Ed at

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63 Comments on "Can Parents Observe Children’s Classrooms & Placements?"


HELP!! Please someone advise me. My grandson is ADHD and Bipolar and is having trouble in school. He has one substitute that has been there since about October, and another one since January. They are not certified to teach nor have degrees in education. My grandson has a 504 Plan that doesn’t get followed. His grades have fallen. I have ask to observe the classrooms and have been denied. I can’t go into a substitute classroom, only veteran teachers for 30 minutes a day and that is not every day. I want my grandson to be successful. What should I do? What legal rights do I have? The principal said the superintendent agrees with the 30 minutes.


My son was involved in a fight at school among what started out to be him fighting one student then up to 4. He is under a 504 plan due to him having multiple health conditions, which one is he is a hemophaliac. He isn’t suppose to be hit NONE. Any form of head trauma the health care forms and 504 plainly states 911.
Principle called me stating my son started the fight, regardless who started this inhumane act, the procedures were not followed. Children sent me video footage of my sons fight. There was a horrific scene. My son caused the suspect that bullied him and threatened to kill him to lose blood. He broke his nose and teeth. My daughter ended up having to jump in due to the “gang fight” that occurred. But school said video shown 1 on 1 and suspended. Why am i forbidden to see school video?


Can school officials such as a curriculum specialist observe a regular education student in the classroom without the parents consent?


My child doesn’t have a disability,,but there has been an ongoing problem with her math teacher saying racial things and yelling at her. Her class is from 9:45am-11:15am. The principal says I can only observe my childs class for 20mins a day. The principal says It is a disturbance to other children when a parent sits in. How do I know if I can sit longer?..I’d like to help my child understand her classwork if her teacher won’t help her. What can I do? I need help.


Retraining is what the teachers need. Treating the children Fair and being capable of dealing with issues is categorized as some characteristics of a Good teacher. If parents need back ground checks to check on their child then apparently they shouldn’t have those children any way. Nobody is looking at the other children, they are worried about their own. Making excuses to isolate a child from their parent is unheard of. Whomever declared that it’s unlawful to observe their own child in the class needs Jesus, some laws shouldn’t be written.