Can our advocate observe my son in the classroom? The school denied my request and said, “only the parent can observe.”
Members of the IEP Team
The parents and school decide who they want to be on the IEP team, aside from the required members.
IDEA allows you to invite individuals who have knowledge or special expertise about your child to be part of the IEP team meeting.
You decide who meets these criteria.
You may invite related services providers, independent educational professionals, including consultants, advocates, and tutors to be part of the team.
You may invite a friend or family member.
There is no requirement that you may only invite professionals.
34 C.F.R. Section 300.321(c). Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, page 247 and Wrightslaw: All About IEPs, page 12.
NO law prohibits people (other than school staff and the parent) from observing the child in the classroom.
Effective Team Members Need Information
To be an effective team member, your advocate or consultant or evaluator may need to do a classroom observation of your son.
Observations in the classroom and in other settings provide valuable information about your child’s ability to learn.
You will learn more about classroom observations for evaluation purposes in Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments.
Addressing the Problem
Was your request for observation a written request? Always make sure your requests, issues, and concerns are in writing.
If the school persists in this position, you need to write a polite letter to the school.
Use your letter to document:
- what you want to do
- what you were told by staff
Parent Observation in the Classroom
But does ‘parental involvement’ extend to parents coming into the school to observe their child in his or her school setting?
The answer is yes!
A parent’s right to observe his or her child during the school day is supported by federal law. This applies to all students, in regular and special education alike.
Unfortunately many educators believe that the confidentiality requirements of FERPA prevent professionals & parents from going into a classroom or observing. Wrightslaw.com has several articles clarifying this. Go to the home page, click on FERPA and you will find several articles.
The school principal at my child’s school told me that he was told by the Supervisor of the Special Education department told him that that only one 45 minute observation per quarter was allowed. So, I had to pay a professional to go to the school twice to observe two separate classes and in two separate quarters.