School Principal and Class Placement

Updated on September 05, 2010
R.S. asks from Royal Oak, MI
19 answers

O.K. so I am so frustrated. My son was in first grade last year and had a teacher who was good, but was a yeller. My son is sensitive to yelling and the first few months for him were rough. Last May I asked his first grade teacher to place him in Mrs. Smiths class for second grade and she said she would do her best. My son would visit Mrs. Smith every Friday just to chat with her. I don't know how this started but I would wait in the hallway an extra 10 minutes every friday so he could go see her. I e-mailed Mrs. Smith in May and asked is my son could go in her class for this coming up year and she said she would talk to the 1st grade teacher, that it was up to her and that she would be happy to have my son. I have to go back through my e-mails but she might have mentioned talking to the principal about it, but I can't be sure.

So today we go to "meet the teacher" night at the school and guess what? My son is not put in Mrs. Smith's class. He was upset for about 5 minutes, but luckily now has moved on. But my question involves the following. I saw the principal in the hallway and told him the story that I just told you. I also added to that story that I have volunteered at least every other week for the last two years and have only ever requested this one thing. The principal said that if the request was that important I should have put it in writing and sent it to him and that hopefully everything will be o.k. He said he could not do anything now, the classes are full and can't switch kids, how would he explain that to another parent? He did not say this with empathy, just matter of fact. I feel so blown off. I'm wondering what I should do now. I feel like e-mailing the principal about how I feel dismissed and that surely my son should be more than just a number in his school. I feel like forwarding the e-mail between Mrs. Smith and myself from May. Or do I just let it go? I am more upset with the principal's matter of fact attitude right now, more than anything else.


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answers from Dallas on

Let it go. There's nothing you can do about it now and you don't want to be labeled as "that" parent, especially if you hope to get what you want another year. Most schools do not take parent requests or the classes are stacked and not very balanced. Also, if you get the teacher involved she might get in trouble, what if she wasn't supposed to say anything?

6 moms found this helpful

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answers from Austin on

I was the PTA President at 2 different schools and I NEVER asked for special placement for my child. Just because I had literally logged 100's of hours per year, I knew I did not have a right to try to influence where my child was placed.

I also learned early on that the school does not willy nilly just divide up the classes amongst teachers. Instead they sit down and discuss each child their needs, their personalities and the teachers best match. They also try to have a classroom with a good combination of personalities. A LOT of work goes into those rosters.

In our daughter first grade I was very concerned that our daughter was the only child from her kindergarten class with a certain teacher. Our daughter is VERY shy. She does not have many friends. Our daughter came home and was also disappointed and spoke about not knowing anyone and missing her friends. I was so frustrated.

After 2 weeks, I found out that her first grade teacher had been an only child, had an amazing sense of humor and LOVED books. Our daughters personality exactly..That teacher is still a very good friend, she attended our daughter HS graduation party, that particular class was that teachers favorite year of teaching and we held a class reunion for those kids, the year that teacher retired.. ALL of the kids attended except for 2 that had moved away.

Your son will be fine. The school and the teachers are experts at what they do. Trust them.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Let it go.

Teachers and principals cannot cater to every preference a parent may have. If they do it for one they have to do it for all. Mrs. Smith can't have 60 kids in her class while the other classes have 10. And, just because you volunteered in the school does not mean that you are able to 'buy' whatever you want for your kid due to your involvement.

If e-mailing the principal about how you feel makes you feel vindicated, then by all means do it but think about how that will make you seem - like you're entitled to whatever you want because you volunteer, that your son deserves special treatment, etc. That's not the relationship you want to begin with your child's educators. And, in the future if you want to speak with the principal it is best to set up an appointment as opposed to blindsiding him in the hallway. I'm sure your kid is a nice kid - do you really want the principal and the teachers to think of him as "the kid with the mom who thinks he should get special treatment?" I doubt it.

Like others have said there is a lot of thought that goes into the creation of classes. Before you jump the gun and automatically assume that the year is a total loss, consider the fact that he might actually like his assigned teacher and that he may thrive as a student because of her teaching style. At any rate, this is a great learning opportunity for children to realize they can't always get what they want but they can certainly make the best out of any situation and still come out successful.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Let it go. Everything is fine, save your energy for when something really screwed up happens. Next time you feel that passionately about something, go through the proper avenues, and do the formal request. The teacher never said it could be done, nor made any promises, just that she would see if it would be alright. That is not a promise. Give this teacher a chance, and it didn't sound like the principal was disrespectful to me.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

When my son went to his kindergarten orientation, he really took to the teacher that was there to conduct it. She is really super sweet and my son had his heart set on having her for his teacher. He was pretty disappointed to learn he'd been put in another class. He met her, he liked her, he wanted her.
I talked to her about it and she explained that her classroom was more geared for the children who had never had any daycare or preschool experience and it was more for the socialization of the children as opposed to introducing academics and my son was placed in the other class for that very reason. She understood his disappointment and was flattered that he liked her so much, but she said her classroom wouldn't be the best place for him.
It all worked out. My son fell in love with the other teacher. He is a sophomore now, and to this day, he still says his kindergarten teacher was the best teacher he ever had. Her classroom was very structured and those kids really learned a lot.
Sometimes there's a reason for these things that we don't understand at first.
I don't know that you were being blown off by the principal, you were conducting this conversation in a hallway which might not have been the best place for it.
I mean no offense by this, but volunteering at the school shouldn't mean that criteria for placing your child should be handled differently.
If your son has moved on, give him a chance to be happy. He can still visit with Mrs. Smith. Nothing stopping him from doing that.

I think you should let it go. You can always request an appointment to discuss the reasons behind the placement. That might make you feel better. Like I said, once I understood why my son wasn't in the class with the teacher he wanted, it made perfect sense. I had no argument. It really WAS the best thing for him and they knew what they were doing.

Best wishes.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Please let this go. Classroom placement is usually done the Spring before. There are many factors to consider. They are:
boy to girl ratio
-range of student abilities (so not all above average children are in 1 room)
-parent participation (so not all the helpers are in 1 room)
-Teacher abilities (some teachers have specific skills that are useful for certain students; like specialized reading training)
-Parent requests (usually done in writing, the Spring before)
-behavior of students(so not all trouble makers are in 1 room)

It is a long meeting and a lot of thought is taken creating classes. I don't know why your first grade teacher did not 'honor' your verbal/ email request. Perhaps she thought that the teacher he has now would be better for him.

Sometimes a teacher's idea where a child should go is overrode by other students' needs. I did not always get to place my students in the classrooms where I thought they should go. 99% of the time it worked out anyway.

If you truly want to help the school as a volunteer and you really want to help your son do well in school be positive and move on. Teachers tend to work together anyway so I am sure that at least some of the other teacher's ideas and planning will filter to your child.

This Spring, you will know how to make the request. But again, don't think it will definitely happen. But consider yourself lucky that you can even make the request, I know several schools that now do not even allow them to be sent.

Good luck.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

Here is the main question: What is the new teacher like? Do you know her to be a bad teacher or a yeller? It is quite possible that the teachers discussed it, and thought that the other teacher was better for your son, and they both knew of your request. Frankly, it is unusual that a school would take written requests for teacher placement because most simpley forbid it because it is such a hard process even without all the requests. But, technically, you did make this request in writing, as you sent this to Mrs. Smith.

But, as I said, the real question is, is his placement bad the way it is? Is the new teacher a yeller? If not, let this go for sure. Maybe your son can have a great teacher and continue his relationship with Mrs. Smith too.

If she is not a great teacher, know that they cannot all be gems, but pick your battles carefully. Not only would you be making yourself a reputation with the principal, but you will also put Mrs. Smith in a bad spot.

They will not all be gems. A very few will be bad. A very few will be outstanding. The vast majoirty will be good teachers with a combination of bothe bad and outstanding charachteristics based on what you child needs at the time. The funny thing is, teachers all three categories switch around for every student. I have been shocked that someone raved about some teachers my children have had that I thought had no redeming educational qualities, but for thier child, that was an outstanding teacher.

One big caution about email. Write HOT. Write everything you are thinking, say what you want to say, get it all out, but the one thing you should never write when you are mad is the email address. Save that unaddressed email for a few days and look at it again. If you are still mad, let it sit a while more. Write hot, but send cold. 99% of the time, you will find yourself toning it down drasticly, or deleting it completly and letting it go. This will probably be one of the times you use theraputic writing and delete the email and let it go.


PS: administrators really don't like to hear how much you volunteered when you are discussing an educational request. Parents don't earn educational advantage by volunteering, and you can bet, if he ever granted a child a benefit because a parent volunteered more for the school than others, he would be behaving in an unethical manner. There are people who scrutinize who gets what, and if anything, this is why they do thing fairly based on children's needs, and usually refuse to even consider placement requests.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Mom, I think you are jumping the gun in this situation. I would give your boy's new teacher a chance and see how it goes b4 insisting that your child be in a particular teacher's class. It is not likely that he will be in another "yellers" class. You may just send the new teacher a not in the 1st week and say you are pleased that he will be in her class . You may also let her know your son tends to be rather sensitive and if she sees he is having any problems in school to please let you know maybe by e-mail so you are aware and can help. She will appreciate getting a compliment from a new parent and will be receptive to honoring your request I imagine. I worked at a public elementary school for 4 yrs and I understand your Principal's demeanor although it sounds like he/she may not have the best bedside manner. Elementary Principals are besieged with 100's of teacher requests each new school year and unfortunatley most can not be honored in fairness to the other teachers who are also good teachers too just not as much in demand. You may not want to hear this but your volunteering at your child's school is to give bk to your community; it should not have any influence on your child's classroom placement in my opinion as a teacher. I feel volunteering is done by a parent our of goodness to lend a hand in your child's class, assist his teacher and the school, not to get a particular teacher for your child in the future.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

Well, I kind of agree with the principal. That is a request that should have been in writing (even if you just cc'd him your original email) prior to now. In my experience, requests for a certain teacher are not granted...a request to not have one particular teacher can usually be honored (as long as you do not request not to have 4 of the 5 since that would be the same as requesting the other 1). Your volunteering at the school shouldn't make a bit of a differnce in your request being honored or not. You don't volunteer to get favoritism but for the benefit of your son and the other students.

You could ask to meet w/ the principal and calmly explain that you did not appreciate his lack of consideration when speaking to you. Although you now know you should have sent him the request, you thought you had made the request correctly since you had spoken to both teachers and you were told it was up to the 1st grade teacher. Ask if there is anyway he can accomodate the request since your son has already developed a relationship with your son...unless there is a specific reason the request was not honored. Maybe after the teachers spoke, they felt he would do better in another class for some reason.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

If this new teacher is just as nice as Mrs. Smith then let him stay. I do have to say you should always let admin know your wants not the teachers, teacher don't usually get much say over who they get. Since the classes are full it is harder to move a kid then one would think. However, if this new women is a yeller I wouldn't take no for an answer I'd be just as a matter of fact.....

If the new teacher is nice and you can work with her then let it go, let is be a lesson learned and be prepared for next year....

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

The principal was right - should have put it in writing to him if it was that important to you. Kids adapt and he will be fine with a different teacher - you said yourself he was OK after 5 mins. Volunteering at school is great but it shouldn't mean you get preferential treatment for it. The principal had way more on his plate than dealing with one kid who wants a different teacher...let it go as he has already said he won't be able to change it now.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Hi R.,

I certainly understand your frustration and disappointment. Dealing with the public school system is @#%[email protected]##. You'll need to learn to choose your battles. Personally, I would let this go for now. See how your son is doing in a few weeks. Then if there's a problem, you can dig up your e-mails and see about getting his teacher switched, which will be an extremely difficult process.

I'm sure it will all work out.

Best of luck to you.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Augusta on

That's just how the school system.
In our system you can't request a certain teacher. It's the luck of the draw.
You should drop it.
It's not really fair to the other students and parents for your child to get switched just because you'd prefer you son got such and such teacher. The classes have already been set and they have met their teachers. It's very disruptive for the class.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Our school has a policy that you cannot request teachers. However, every Spring the principal the principal lets the parents know via his newsletter that you can write to him and let him know what educational environment works best for your child. I prefer that my son doesn't get a yeller, so I state that he either becomes combatative or shuts down if he gets yelled at too much. He's a pretty good student so I don't think he would get yelled at, but it's my way of avoiding the yellers. I also say he needs a teacher who can be firm when its needed because this motivates him. We are also allowed to say if we don't want specific kids in our child's class. This year I did request one of his "friends" not be in his class because I think this kid isn't a great influence. I didn't put that in my letter; I explained they are friends but can be disruptive when they get together and that isn't good for a classroom. Why don't you request your school develop a policy similar to ours. I can see why you are upset with the principal's matter of fact attitude, but put this aside and work for a change in the policy.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

i agree with m.r. you could bring cupcakes and candy everyday and they do not have to do anything just because that's what you want. you need to let that go. your son may not like his teacher or prefer another teacher or antoher but he has to learn that he will not always get your way and that is apart of life..dealing with things that we really don't want to! please let this go i;m quite sure the principle has other things to worry about. good luck



answers from Seattle on


I am going to give you a different opinion. You need to do what you think is right for your child. DO NOT let any of these people tell you that you do not want to be labeled "THAT PARENT". You have every right to be worried about your childs education. If this is that important then you should fight for your child. My oldest is just starting pre-school and I honestly have had more e-mail conversation with the Superintendent then probably most parents have had. I just happen to be a very hands on person and I do not like to see injustices done especially in Education. It is too important.

I will say that you should have made a written request to the admin.

I just want to encourage you to stick up for your child. I would probably see how this teacher is and if it is not working for your child then push to have him changed. But if your child is having problems with the teacher then I do highly suggest that you MAKE them move your son even in the middle of the year. They can do it. Your son's education is the most important part. Not some Number ratio between girls and boys. I also do not believe that the learning levels of the children should be spread out evenly between classrooms. I believe that there should be a 3 tiered placement. Fast learners, normal learners, and slow learners. I do not believe that those students that learn fast should have to learn at a much slower pace due to having slower learners in their class. When you have a mixture someone will either be bored or feel inadequate to their peers. Both are really bad and cause kids to act out.

Good Luck! Do what YOU think is right for your child. You have to advocate for them.



answers from Erie on

I feel for you, one suggestion for next year or if something else comes up, It might not have changed the result but you might have felt more listsend to and not so "brushed off" if a meeting had been set up between you and the principal, When you catch someone in the Hallway, during an event like that, that they are essentially "hosting" they usually have a harder time really hearing your concern and being sympatetic to what you are saying. IT's hard though when you are counting on something and aren't given a real reason why a Totally different Thing has happened,

Is it worth it to contact the first grade teacher and ask what benifits your child will have by being with this second grade teacher. Sort of ask what her strengths are, and how they fit him. And I think if it's important you could make sure he still gets to visit Ms. Smith.
sorry for this bad experience.



answers from Detroit on

Can you imagine what the teachers and principals would do if every parent "requested" a teacher? Then, add in all the requests from parents who don't want their kid in with another kid? They would have an impossible job.
Sometimes, we have to just trust the teachers and administrators to do their job and do what's best.

One more thing. If every child spent 10 minutes with a teacher after school, how would the teachers ever get anything done, or be able to go home and enjoy their personal lives. Did you ever think that the teacher said she would put your son in the class to be polite, but really was concerned that the connection your son feels to her might be distracting to the class? I am sure your son is a great boy, but in reality, he is one of many students in the school and the teachers have to spread their time and efforts among all of them.




answers from Detroit on

I've never understood why parents' wishes are not taken into account when placing students but I've seen/experienced this many times. Sometimes it works out better than expected. Sometimes not. My daughter ended up pulling her son, who cried daily over the teacher's way of handling things, out of school and we shared homeschooling him for the rest of that year then she moved all her kids to a parochial school the following year. It especially grinds me when parents are helping at the school, but they do things like this. Why, I don't know. You just don't have much control and that's the bottom line. So sorry. If it can't be changed, I'd work hard to have a positive attitude and work with this new teacher and help your son focus on all the good things. Maybe it will be a learning experience for him that is needed. Hopefully!

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