49 answers

Refused Observation in Classroom Activity

What would you do if the principal at your child's school said he had made a policy refusing parents the right to observe their child in an academic environment siting the reason as being preserving the confidentiality of the other children participating?

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So What Happened?™

I felt the need to clarify a few things. The responses have been overwhelming, thanks to everyone. My child was reffered to the SSI program. I don't recall what it stands for, but we were given our child's low test scores as a reason for him needing to attend. He is doing fine in the classroom, but because he lacks a bit of focus and he doesn't do great in timed activities (he's not a slow processor, but he definitely takes his time thinking) he did poorly on the standardized tests they performed at the beginning of the year. I mostly chalked it up it being his first formal testing since he went to a private kindergarten. Anyway, we have never been real comfortable with the SSI program because there has been a lack of communication from the get-go. I had to call a neighbor who is a teacher at the school to even figure out what it was. We were then told we would be kept informed as to what they did in this "class" and how he was doing and when he improved he would no longer be in it. Well he had been in SSI for a little over a month and we hadn't heard any progress reports. So, my husband called in to talk to the SSI teacher and she said she didn't usually give reports, but she would be more than happy to put one in his next 6 weeks report card. From there my husband decided he would ask to observe the SSI class. That is when he was turned down. He would be allowed in the regular classroom, but not the SSI class because of confidentiality reasons. This didn't set well with either of us, so he did, as many of you suggested, call the district. There is not such policy for the district. My husband then called back and talked to the principal and he said it was all his decision. He sited FERPA, which my husband immediately replied that it did not apply. He also started using words like "at-risk" and "special program" ...those combined with the confidentiality made this whole program seem like a much bigger deal than we had earlier been told. We were under the impression this a basic tutoring session. I am a former SpEd teacher and SLP, so I am familiar with all the buzz words, and also the words administrators use when they are beating around the bush. I am not afraid to have a child diagnosed with some type of learning disability, but if this is really the road they are wanting to go on, then they need to have a conference with us and talk to us about it...not try to do it behind our backs through some obscure program. I'm just confused, frustrated, and pretty much in disbelief. I just don't think it wise to have any program in a school that a parent can't observe. We're all in a fuss about how to hold teachers accountable and we all know that however well-meaning TAKS and no child left behind were, they don't work. How about doing simple things like letting parents observe? Doesn't that inately allow for some accountability? I don't know how it will all end, but if we can't observe the program we very well may just pull him out. I can tutor him just as well at home as I'm sure I have a lot more education than the teacher assistant currently teaching the tutoring (or whatever it is).

By the way, I am a member of the PTA, but haven't figured out how to use that to my advantage yet. I can't volunteer at school nearly as much as I would prefer as I have 3 non-school-aged children at home. But my husband and I both have been cleared to volunteer and have already been involved in a field trip and my husband has joined our son for lunch a couple of times. I do email the teacher often and have attempted to maintain and grow a positive relationship with her. I really think she is a great fit for my son and am grateful she is his teacher.

Featured Answers

I would say there is something seriously wrong with the principal's thought process. My personal opinion is that anyone who doesn't want to allow me access to my child must have something to hide.

1 mom found this helpful

If I were you I would go straight to the school board with a complaint about this. You have the right to know what is going on in the classroom.

Hello!
This is AMerica! I have worked in the public schools!
The principal should welcome parents! These are state officials , paid by you!
Blessings!
C. N.

More Answers

Public school? Visit the superintendent.

Private school? Change schools and report them to the BBB. If a private school is restricting access like that, something very wrong is going on in there. (If it is a public school, most likely the prinicpal is just an idiot.)

1 mom found this helpful

That would ruffle my feathers a bit, but maybe an outside source could be an intermediary...I'm assuming a little here, but if you want to observe, are you concerned about a behavior issue with your child or just how he/she is adjusting? If so, maybe you could have a phychologist or some other type of specialist do the observation and report back to you. If that is refused, I'd be very concerned.

1 mom found this helpful

I would be going to the superintendent and see if this was a district policy. Also, I would also suggest joining your PTA or PTO and become an active volunteer if possible. You will have to probably undergo a background check, but again it is worth it. Most of the schools won't let you bring your other children while doing this, but you will be amazed at what you see and hear by doing this and how much a couple hours a week helps. It will also help you build a good relationship with your child's teacher as well as get to know them and the other teachers at the school. There is never enough time for all the things that they need or want to do with the children.
Good luck and I hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful

I would say there is something seriously wrong with the principal's thought process. My personal opinion is that anyone who doesn't want to allow me access to my child must have something to hide.

1 mom found this helpful

I say it is BS. I am a teacher and parents are always welcome to come to my classroom. The only reason the administrators would ask that a parent would not come is if there is some other motive, like a lawsuit pending. I also teach first grade, by the way. I see no reason as long as you are not trying to observe all the time. Sometimes the parent can cause a disruption, but if you just want to watch for a little while to get a sense of what your child's day is like, I would talk to the teacher and see what her thoughts are.

1 mom found this helpful

I would first check on the districts policy. I bet you will find that the district has a different policy. Most districts allow parents to observe or even visit. You might even try calling the superintendants office. I am assuming this is a public school. If so, anyone who pays school taxes has a right to view the school even if they do not have a child attending.

T.,
I have an issue with that also. My youngest daughters school will not let parents sit in a classroom to observe their child. I have fought this for years and have had many meetings with her. It has nothing to do with the confidentiality of the other kids. Her thinking is we are interrupting the class and making the teacher feel uncomfortable. Here is what I have learned if you are a member of the PTA board you can do whatever you want in the school. Our school handed out badges for the board members to come and go as they please. They dont have to check in with the office and be asked a million questions on where we are going, for what, and does the teacher know you are coming? To me this is sad. I have talked with a lot of other parents who have argued the same thing and we have gotten no where. Best bet is to go to the school board and bring it up, and go to a PTA meeting and bring it up. WE all have the right to see how are kids are doing in school and sit in their class to make sure they are acting right, and see how the teacher is teaching, how much time to they get to do work and so on. I can tell you that last year I was on the board of PTA and I could go just to the lunch room, but other PTA members could go whereever. I had had enough and call the prinipal and asked why i was given the third degree about where I was going but other members are not. (Keep in mind I have been a part of this school since my oldest was in 3rd grade who is know a 10th grader and my youngest is know in 2nd grade)Here is what I was told.:Its are policy at **** elem. to keep a quiet learning eniveroment for our students, and should you have a problem with it then I suggest you take it up with the school board. Not every parent has the right to come and go as they please and you should understand that.: Can you believe that? So.. with this beign said take it to the school board and bring it up in a PTA meeting. Get all the parents you know to come and back you on this. Good luck.

Dear T.:

None of my daughter's schools has EVER said anything like that, and we've been at four schools now! My daughter's schools just requested not timing a visit with a test and disrupting class as little as possible and giving them advance notice, of course.

Personally I would go over the principal's head and contact the administration of the school district. You have a right to observe what's going on.

L. F., mom of a 13-year-old

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