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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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62 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Tawana 12/16/14 at 8:58 am

    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?

  • 2 Ebra 11/15/14 at 11:27 am

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

  • 3 Kenyaddah 10/27/14 at 7:15 pm

    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.

  • 4 Queen 09/23/14 at 4:00 pm

    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.

  • 5 Cynthia 09/21/14 at 7:35 pm

    I currently have a full classroom of pre-teens 11 boys and 4 girls, 2 female paraprofessionals. My classroom is a Self-contained Moderate Support most students are behavioral, autism, SLD, and MID. My question is,”How often can a parent come into to observe a classroom”? I feel uncomfortable because she gives the behavioral students an evil look. I ask if she has any questions for me and she says no. She says she is there because her son has pointed out trouble makers and students who she said bully him during class breaks and in the locker room in PE. Please help.

  • 6 Valerie 09/18/14 at 6:39 pm

    I have a medically fragile child that started kindergarten this year. I have been taking care of her medical needs as well as her learning/communication needs in class while they look for a nurse. I would like to stay with my daughter while in school. Do I as a parent of a medically fragile child have any say so if I wish to stay in school with her.

  • 7 claudia 08/26/14 at 8:58 am

    is it legal for the princible not to let me inside the school to drop off my daughter

  • 8 Rhonda 07/18/14 at 11:24 am

    I was told I have the final say in placement in Ok. is that true? I would like my daughter in 10 grade as she will be 16 this year she has been homeschooled and didn’t pass their placement test, but she didn’t study and I think would do fine after they reveiw.

  • 9 Jim 07/02/14 at 6:45 pm

    Should parents be given the right to opt out of parent volunteers grading their child’s work?

  • 10 Renee 04/15/14 at 12:44 pm


    I had paid for an educational professional to observe my daughter’s current placement, and now the school district is requesting the report. What is the law that states the school district has the right to the report?
    Please let me know the district is being very confrontational regarding this matter. Thank you

  • 11 Samuel 09/03/13 at 10:48 pm

    It’s an argument against public schools. Privacy takes a back-seat to the right of the parent to have access to one’s child. To deny a parent the right to enter the classroom and observe and verify the well-being and education of one’s child is far more egregious than seeing what other children are doing in the classroom. Teachers are important, but the true expert in a child’s education is the parent. My wife and I educated our child for 5 years before kindergarten, and we expect to be treated with the deference of veteran educators. There is no argument that can sufficiently explain why a parent should not be able to enter the classroom at any time to see one’s child, unless that parent has a criminal record.

  • 12 4ourchildren 08/09/13 at 11:20 am

    Upon agreement between the parent and the administrator, however, additional visits may be scheduled as needed. Parents guardians may contact the IDEA/504 Coordinator at xxx-xxxx for additional information regarding federal regulations. Parents cannot bring other children into the classroom. During the classroom period, cell phones must remain in the “off” position and are not allowed to be used.

  • 13 4ourchildren 08/09/13 at 11:16 am

    Liberty County School District in Hinesville GA adopted this policy in the Student Information and Code of Conduct Grades PK-12 in 2012 page 18 of the 2013-2014 manual: Only parents or legal guardians are allowed to observe in the classroom where the parent’s/guardians child is in attendance. Before an observation can occur, the parent/guardian must obtain 24-hour prior approval from a school administrator. Once approval is obtained, the administrator will arrange a date and time for the observation. The administrator will also arrange for school employee to escort the parent/guardian to the classroom and remain with them through the observation. Classroom observations are limited to 20 minutes and may be requested only once each semester unless federal regulations require different procedures.

  • 14 Gail 04/09/13 at 1:16 am

    As a regular classroom teacher for 28 years, I find this discussion interesting. Parents are welcome to observe in my classroom but I ask that they give me notice first and tell me the time of day and how long they plan to be there. There are several reasons for this. First, I want the parent to see a typical day. If we are having an assembly or special project, all the kids will be excited and louder than normal. As for the time of day, there is no point in a parent coming to observe my class while their child is in P.E. and not in my room. As to the length of time, if the parent is going to be there for a few hours, I will have him/her work with a group of kids, including their child. I like the parent to see how their child relates to the other children in the class. Hope this provides a different perspective.

  • 15 Claire 04/05/13 at 4:52 pm

    As an experienced Educational Consultant and child/parent advocate, I would like to encourage parents to do their own observations of their children’s present and potential placements before the annual Review and development of IEP meetings.. I feel that it is an important part of their education in becoming knowledgeable as they advocate for their children. I would like to request that someone at wrightslaw construct a form for the 1st time that a parent observes a classroom for a special needs child. This form could be used as a guide to be further embellished as they gain experience and have specific areas the are concerned about.
    As always, thanks for all of the valuable insights and information you so generously share share with parents and professionals.


  • 16 GIna 03/19/13 at 5:30 am

    My 9 year old is special needs & I walk him into his classroom daily & make him laugh , kiss him and tell him to have a wonderful day . I go out the door & blow him kiss through the glass window . Last Friday his teacher asked me to come outside before I kissed him goodbye & explained that I was not to come back into the classroom and that he would meet me at my car and take my son into class from now on. Then he said he would pick him up and take him by force if my son cried or wouldn’t go . I told him I didn’t want that he said he needed to brake his connection with me . Then gave me a parenting lecture . He then locked me out of the classroom while my son was crying at his seat pointing to his cheek for his kiss . I picked him up after school the teacher wrote a note that he was sad all morning !! Is this legal ? Help

  • 17 Renea 02/18/13 at 9:54 pm

    Can a parent videotape school district staff without their permission when they are providing services to their child?

  • 18 Concerned Parents 02/13/13 at 11:04 am

    Yesterday I received a newsletter from my son school stating that, Parents are welcome to eat lunch with their child. Teachers will then escort their students, only to the classrooms after lunch so that parents mat exit the building. All visitors in the building must registered in the office and receive a visitor’s pass. While here in the essence of safety, please do not talk with students other than your own. Parents will not be allowed to visit classrooms unless prior arrangements have been made. If you need to express a concern to your child’s teacher, please schedule a conference. We already no that, Teachers will not be able to meet with parents during instructional hours. That’s violation of the FERPA Law.

  • 19 Jennifer 02/07/13 at 11:48 am

    I’mno lawyer, but hat sounds like a a giant FERPA violation to me. No parent should be allowed to see the paper of a student that is not their own child..

  • 20 sjones 02/05/13 at 6:29 pm

    Can a parent volunteering in a teacher’ room grade students’ paper? If it is a kindergarten classroom with only smile and sad face will that be acceptable for a parent. Now, this teacher only asked for those two faces on the paper. What is the law in this regard.

  • 21 Barbara 01/25/13 at 1:24 pm

    I have been volunteering in all four of my children’s classes for the past 25 years ( I have children ages 6yrs. to 28yrs). I volunteer in my 6 year old son’s class (1st grade) on Tuesdays and Wednesdays every week. Last week the teacher suddenly said to me that she wanted me to drop my son at the door and not enter the classroom with him. She said too many parents are loitering around their children in the morning because they see me do it. I told her that I was not okay with the “drop off” thing. I come into the class with my son each day and stay for ten minutes until flag salute then leave. The teacher said I had no choice in this. I pulled my son and went to talk with the principal. The teacher literally left class and didn’t return for a week. Now she does not let me volunteer anymore. But other parents do. I am being singled out.

  • 22 Sharon L. 06/02/12 at 11:39 pm

    Tony – WE were able to observe our children but had to request an appointment. WE could not just walk in unannounced. This worked out ok because our sons knew we were there and it did not disturb what or how they did their work and we saw the truth of what was going on.

  • 23 tony 05/31/12 at 3:11 pm

    My child’s teacher called one day (not the 1st time ) was having trouble with my kid. i went and asked for principal and got the assist. let him listen to my voice message from teacher and asked if i can go and make sure my kid does his work. the assist principal said no, that i might be a distraction to the other kids. but will let my kid come to office so i can do work with my kid. is this not a right- were i can go and observe the teacher without notice? i live in nc.

  • 24 Roxana 02/13/12 at 10:10 am

    Is the right to observe or be in the classroom exclusive of parents with children with disabilities or are regular students parents have the same right to be in there? If so, what is this law? I have been looking for it but I can not find it. Thanks

  • 25 leigh 12/12/11 at 3:48 pm

    my daughter is acting out in classroom and not paying attention for some time. i need to observe her behavior so i can be the one to take her to doctor and get her some counseling but i have to know and see what is going on instead of a teacher telling me this. i have been told by the school i cannot observe due to the privacy of the other students. what can i do now? is there a law in oklahoma? thanks so much

  • 26 Sharon L. 11/22/11 at 8:42 pm

    Dianne – Sounds like discrimination to me. Get some parents and meet with the school to find out if they have a written policy on this item for children with and without disabilities. It should be easy to pursue discrimination. If they do not have a policy they most likely are out of compliance and you can file a complaint with the state.

  • 27 Dianne 11/15/11 at 12:31 am

    Jan 2009 Mass legislature amended section 3 of G.L. c. 71B, the state of Mass special education law, to require school committees, upon request by a parent, to grant timely and sufficient access by parents to a child’s current and proposed special education program. The law, referred to in this advisory as “the observation law,” limits the restrictions or conditions that schools may impose on these observations. The purpose of the law is to ensure that parents can participate fully and effectively in determining the child’s appropriate educational program.
    In my school district, if the parent doesn’t sign the Confidentiality Agreement form, they are not allowed to visit the classroom.
    The purpose of the law is for what? Parents of students w/out disability, are not required to sign anything. Discrimination?

  • 28 Dee 05/25/11 at 9:36 pm

    The law states that’ Parents have a right to access to teachers.” Does this include requesting a teacher recommendation or letter of reference? I have confirmed that the school does not have a policy against it. But, I was told by the Dr. of Spel Ed. that she strongly discourage teachers giving individual recommendations and the IEP should suffice. However, the IEP is not current (2010), and the private program vendor wants current feedback.

  • 29 Diana 04/20/11 at 11:30 pm

    Any time anyone doesn’t want to allow observations of children, I’m concerned. My grandson went to private religious pre- school, primarily for social interaction. Loved it, did well & learned a lot. The following year, the school didn’t want me to pay, though I could afford it. Informed me it was an Iowa state program. At that point, we went from 4 converences to 1 that year.
    The only thing I learned from that one, was “We’re not here to teach this year, we just observe now.” All teaching came at home. Now his public school said he needs remedial math [could count to 100 by age 4]. He reads simple books, has great English comprehension. Public school tested him, said he didn’t need remedial work, now but since his father agreed to it, he’s in it. He lost half of spring break; will lose a month of summer break.

  • 30 Sharon L. 04/09/11 at 10:46 am

    Parents Observe Children’s Classrooms & Placements? by Nara

    I would go to the board of education and request to see the procedure of observing children in the classroom to be sure, in case the principal is not up to date.
    You should go to the superintendent before filing a complaint. This is too ridiculous to file a complaint. I cannot believe the school will not let you observe. Once you talk to the superintendent, after you check if they really do or do not have a policy, I think he or she will allow it.
    If not then yes you should go to the state and file a complaint. I cannot believe it will go that far.

  • 31 Margaret 04/07/11 at 1:33 pm

    I just went through this issue with my 6 year old – they referred him to a self-contained behavioral class in a different elementary school. I went to observe the “class” but was not allowed to see any students so I couldn’t observe the class. I was told this is for confidentiality reasons.

    It is hard for me to believe I am not allowed to see my child in this class with his teacher and peers. Also, the program has a level system so he would have to be on level 3 before he could eat lunch in the regular ed cafeteria. So I wouldn’t be able to see him at school at all. We had an ARD meeting yesterday with the district’s attorney, special ed director, my advocate, etc all in attendance. The district personnel did not know that was going on in that classroom, said that was inappropriate, and was not the way it should be.

  • 32 Nara 04/06/11 at 2:32 pm

    Sharon, Thanks for the reply. Prinicipal is saying “all procedures need not have to be in writing to follow”. So obviously they don’t have a copy of the procedure. Do I need to file a complaint with the school education board ?

  • 33 Sharon L. 04/05/11 at 11:39 am

    Nara I would get a copy of the procedure even if you have to go to the superintendent. They must not want you to see something or they would not have a problem with you observing.

  • 34 Nara 04/04/11 at 3:37 pm

    Recently we sent a request for an observation for 2 hours to the school prinicipal. They are making it impractical by limiting the session to 30 min. Initially they said it is policy, when I asked for a copy, they retracted it saying it is procedure for the whole district. I still wanted to see the copy of the procedure but now the prinicipal is saying as an administrator she has the flexibility and power to do that. Now I am not sure how to proceed.

  • 35 barbara 03/07/11 at 1:26 pm

    Is there a NYS law allowing you to visit your child classroom without the teacher knowledge

  • 36 MARY 01/23/11 at 2:54 pm

    Where does a 13 year old go if he does not want to go to school, he is presently labeled an emotionally Impaired child. Being home schooled but refuses to do school work with the assigned teacher, he is violent and destructive. Parents are a big part of the problem, they give in to anything he asks for . Parents way of thinking, No school : fine, No homework that’s fine also
    Any suggestions.

  • 37 Maria 11/15/10 at 9:00 pm

    I was not permitted to view my son’s proposed placement at a therapeutic day treatmetn program that the SD wanted me to send my son. This was because it would violate HIPAA. Had I seen this program prior to enrolling him I don’t think I would have enrolled him. I still wonder if I should have sued them for negligence when they let him run away multiple times and he wound up in a car accident in a stolen car as a result (he was 11). It was the wrong placement for him. Where he is now is more like a school and they do a much better job at maintaining safety. Plus they understand he has learning and processing problems and work with him from that point of view which helps a lot.

  • 38 Delia 11/15/10 at 12:32 pm

    The way we were able to get into the classroom was to get clearance to become volunteers. That way, we have had background checks etc. Our teachers tend to be accepting with a day’s notice. Most often it is simply to find out if it fits into the class schedule for the day.

    We have never had any issues with confidentiality.

  • 39 Suzanne 11/08/10 at 10:10 pm

    Today I received a letter from our school announcing a new policy that had taken effect in October. This policy consisted of student’s rights to privacy and independance when on a school trip only parents of students with “life-threatening medical disability that requires invasive interventions or the parents of wheel-chair bound students who cannot be transported on district school buses will be permitted to attend field trips”.
    This has come after we have repeatedly been the only supporters for these kids for 3 years now.

  • 40 Tyler 03/23/10 at 1:26 pm

    I’m very curious about the ability of a school or district for that matter to deny parental access to classroom observation. It is disturbing to me to that parents are unable to see their children, if desired, in the the classroom. Especially since it is explicitly addressed in the NCLB Act, 1504(C) as quoted in another post. The district is pulling the same BS about having to get written permission from every students’ parents before allowing observation. There is no privacy issue legally. I have requested this information in writing, but alas, I think I’ll be waiting a while. Could anyone point me to the court cases mentioned here which refer to these privacy issues in public schools?

    Thank you,


  • 41 Katie 01/13/10 at 9:00 pm

    It is legal to cover a door (many districts have teachers do it for safety in case of the glass breaking or some intruder). I teach in a school that allows parents to visit as long as they sign a confidentiality waiver which is a couple of lines that state that they can not talk about any one else in the classroom and they are to keep their comments afterwards about their child. Everyone who visits signs this agreement, not just those visiting special education programs.
    On a parental side: I am a parent of a child with significant communication needs due to severe apraxia. When the district was considering placing her in a program for autistic students they offered for me to go visit. Her profile is far removed from the children she would be placed with so I refused on categorical reasons. It was nice but not the right move for her

  • 42 ZoeAnn 09/22/09 at 7:58 am

    My daughter’s school also will not allow me to observe the classroom; they have also placed a dark piece of paper over the door so no one can see in the classroom. None of the reg ed classroom doors are covered. When asked about this the spec ed teacher replied it was for confidentiality and without it, the students were too distracted by others walking by. Is it legal for them to cover the door?

  • 43 JonsBestest 09/15/09 at 2:05 pm

    If your child has an IEP/is identified as a student w/a disability, they would potentially be in class with these other children every day. As an involved parent you would know who they are, perhaps where they live, their last names, their parent’s names, etc. The schools should NOT BE ALLOWED to modify a classroom, including the removal of students because it discriminates against the incoming child and removes visibility from the incoming child’s parents. I went through this personally. I was not allowed to see classes without other parent’s permission. If these children had been removed, and considering my son needs appropriate peer models, I would never have KNOWN if the children in class were appropriate peers for my son or not had they been allowed to be removed. In NYC parents MUST review a class before their children can attend!

  • 44 susan 06/02/09 at 1:06 pm

    to consider:
    -what are the rules for reg ed parents visiting? Can you find reg ed parents in your area who are allowed to visit? to visit without appointments?
    -can you request to have visitation put into the IEP? yes. It shouldn’t be necessary, but is possible. ? to consider? the child’s ability to self-report, parents need to carry over supports at home, parents need to follow child’s health and behavioral status and see how they are responding during school to meds and treatments, life events, etc (this can also help address the appointment issue – what if your child wakes up looking off, and you want to check on how they are responding to their regular environment during that day? (not how they look in the hallway when brought to you.)

    Do not question yourself- we are being denied access to deny our child their rights

  • 45 Diana 06/02/09 at 7:38 am

    My child has multiple and low-incidence disabilities(Sp.Quad CP, epilepsy, CVI, MR) so her school day is primarily spent in a self-contained classroom She was coming home from school sick a lot this school year, so I submitted a request to both the teacher and the principal to observe in the classroom for the purpose of trying to identify the seizure trigger, and the request was supported by 2 Dr. notes. The school responded that me being in the classroom violates the other student’s FERPA rights. And it is not just me, all parents with students in self contained classrooms are being forbidden from visiting or observing these self-contained classrooms, although interestingly the school PTA parent volunteers seem to be able to freely come and go to regular classrooms.

  • 46 james 05/20/09 at 6:34 pm

    I read your comment about classroom observations and confidentiality. What about a planned observation by a parent and her paraprofessional of an individual session of the teacher working with another special education child whose parent does not know that the observation is taking place? The purpose of this observation is to observe the teacher working with a discrete trial programming and took over 40 minutes.

  • 47 Diana 04/17/09 at 1:04 pm

    Anyone else experiencing their school district citing IDEA Reg. “34 C.F.R. § 300.622 governing confidentiality of personally identifiable information of students with disabilities” as their rationale for denying parents from visiting their child’s self-contained special education classroom?

  • 48 suzanne 03/05/09 at 6:50 pm

    My son is in 4th grade with a teacher who teaches 4th and 5th combined ASD(asperger’s). My son has adhd, written expression, dislexia, disgraphia. I don’t believe this environment is helping him being mixed with two grades. What can I do? Do I have to put up with this?

    To Amanda: Believe your child. Go with your feelings.

  • 49 Amanda 11/18/08 at 7:14 pm

    I have recently spoken to my childs school principle about observing my childs cklassroom, and was told ABSOLUTELY NOT! Because I would be a distraction to the students. I want to observe because my child has been coming home upset since the first dat of school this year stating her teacher is very mean to the students, and mostly her. I have spoke with the priciple about this a number of times and it does not seem to be getting any better but worse! I do not know what else to do!! My child has informed me that if I was to be in the classroom the te3acher would not act in a mean manner because she only does it when she is the only big person in the room, she states “the teacher uses her ‘fake’ voice when other big people are inn the room.” any advice?

  • 50 Nancy 10/22/08 at 10:34 am

    In my experience, the opposite has also been true: parents are allowed unfettered access to classrooms because school systems are worried about being sued. As a union representative for teachers, I am concerned about parents trying to be too involved in (to the point of controlling) their child’s education. Thoughts?

  • 51 June23 10/06/08 at 4:03 pm

    I was the one who submitted this question at the CH Wrightslaw conf. The schools here are notorious for not allowing parents to observe potential placements. I don’t think they have anything to hide per se but they want to make the decisions unilaterally, probably based on THEIR needs- where there is space etc…. So before they say, we want your child in XYZ class, should I be able to observe a few different options? What strategy should I use? Right now, they give out a video of potential placements- I am not kidding- it even has kids in it- talk about privacy issues!

  • 52 Brenda 10/01/08 at 8:55 am

    I requested to observe my sons classes and the school district refused my request at the IEP meeting. How can a parent actively participate in the IEP process when the SD is impeding parental participation??

    How will the hearing officer view the SD’s refusal of my request to monitor the program that my son was offered??

  • 53 Kathy 09/30/08 at 7:49 am

    I not only observed in person, in the environment, it was written in the IEP that I would observe, video-tape, and voice-tape my child in any/all settings and placements. How else could I be an appropriate and well-informed IEP Team member?

  • 54 Ron 09/29/08 at 7:19 am

    My son has a plethera of special needs, lots of providers, and had a robot teacher in 4th grade. He kept coming home so upset and frustrated. For the first time in his life he didn’t want to go to school.I took a day of vacation time and asked if he would like me to spend a day at school with him – my son readily agreed. I made an appointment giving teacher a weeks notice as I wanted to be part of routine day.This has been the best learning experiance to help me advocate for my son. I made a little checksheet of modificatins and accomodations and classes on excell to prepare with a list of accomodation and modifications. I just kept it my back pocket.

  • 55 Elyse 09/29/08 at 7:11 am

    My advice would be to contact the school or look online at the handbook for vistors. I know that my elementary, middle, and High schools allow visitors with advanced noticed. Privacy should not be affected since you are not taping or filming the students. I understand that the school may be protecting themselves, but what are they hiding is my question? The school should be willing for you to see what your child would be in.

  • 56 Wrightslaw 09/27/08 at 10:04 am

    Parents who wish to observe their child’s classroom have support from the No Child Left Behind Act which emphasizes the need for parental participation.

    Parents have a right to access to teachers, opportunities to volunteer and participate in your child’s class, and to observe classroom activities. (Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind, page 39, 58-59, 80, 194-198)

    If the child attends a Title I school, parents have a right to inspect instructional materials used in the curriculum. (Title X, Section 1061) (Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind, page 39)

    Read this article about privacy issues: Parent Observations v. Student Confidentiality at

  • 57 Wrightslaw 09/27/08 at 9:42 am

    Observations and Parent Role in Placement Decisions

    Parents are members of all teams that make decisions about a child’s education – eligibility, IEPs, placement. As a member of the placement team, you cannot make a decision about whether a placement is appropriate unless you observe that proposed placement.

    There is no law that denies parents the right to observe a classroom or placement – after all, this is YOUR child’s education.

  • 58 Sharon 09/25/08 at 8:45 pm

    In NYC, children are offered a placement in a public school program, even if they are enrolled in a private school. Part of the ‘process’ involves having the parent (with advocate) look at, and reject the inappropriate public school placement so that they can file for tuition reimbursement under Carter.

    We observe the classroom, class makeup, teacher’s credentials, materials for reading/math, and overall academic levels of the students. We note size of the room, presence or not of stimulating/motivating materials, ability of school to fulfill IEP mandated services.

    In NYC it is required that the program be observed. No privacy issue has ever been cited. I show up with the parent unannounced. We don’t want teacher to have time to ‘prepare’ for visit. You can certainly cite this as an example of a school system in which parents (and their advocates) can observe programs which their children are not yet attending.
    Sharon :)

  • 59 Wrightslaw 09/25/08 at 12:38 pm

    Dieter: I think there is confusion among school personnel about privacy and confidentiality rights so they tend to place unnecessary limits on parent visits.

    Courts have consistently held that children who attend public schools have very limited privacy rights. For example, there is no legal requirement that before a parent can visit or observe a class, other parents have to consent. Think about how this would play out in other situations. Assume a parent volunteers to help their child’s teacher – in the classroom or on a field trip. Does the school get consent from parents of all the children in the class? No. Why not? Because it isn’t necessary.

    Do you have a student handbook? That may help clarify requirements. I’m not encouraging you to get into a battle over this issue. It’s essential for parents to realize that they need to verify what they are told, especially when it doesn’t make sense.

  • 60 karenRZ 09/25/08 at 10:09 am

    According to our son’s school manual, we are welcome to observe our son’s class, but we have to make an appointment in advance. I haven’t tried visiting yet, but I don’t believe we have to wait weeks for approval.

  • 61 Dieter 09/24/08 at 11:27 pm

    This was one of my first questions, can we observe, this would be fine with the school providing we give them two to three weeks notice, due to the Privacy Act. For parents approval. Dieter

  • 62 David1 09/24/08 at 12:46 pm

    The Special Education Director should not mind providing you with statistics from the class. What percent are on grade level? if age appropriate, how many credits does a typical student in this class obtain per school year. The general education population have a number of opportunities throughout the year to meet and form bonds. This is done through sporting events, volunteering at dances or PTA meetings, without regard to other finding out who they are. Are there any activities that will allow you to meet the parents of the other students in their class? This information along with an observation should offer enough information for you to make a decision.