Special Education – Are Parents Allowed to Observe Child’s Classroom?

Are you the parent of a child with a learning disability or autism who

would like to observe their school classroom? Have you been told by

special education personnel, that you cannot observe your child’s

classroom? This article will teach you about what is allowed under

law, about school observations. By going to your child’s classroom and

observing, you can ask for any changes that you believe your child

needs. This will help your child receive an appropriate education.

School personnel may state that you cannot observe because of the

children’s confidentiality; this is untrue. The Supreme Court ruled in

Owasso Independent School District v. Falvo (534 US 426 2002) that

confidentiality of other students can’t be used as a reason to deny

observation by a parent. They established that, students have no

expectation of privacy.

Special Education personnel may deny you from observing your child’s

placement because of FERPA (the Federal Education Rights and Privacy

Act). FERPA does not prevent observation by parents or their

professional representatives. FERPA only protects written records.

If your school district states that parent observations violate HIPPA,

they are incorrect. HIPPA is for medical records, and in most

cases does not apply to school districts.

In my opinion, parents do have a right to observe the current

and proposed placement of their child. This is because parents

have a right to “meaningfully” participate in determining their

child’s IEP and placement. These rights were up held in 2 court

cases (Honig v. Doe 1988, and Burlington School Committee v.

Mass Dept. of Education (1985). Parents have unique knowledge

of their child, and they should be able to observe in the classroom.

If your school district continues to assert, that you have no right to

observe your child’s current or proposed placement, ask by what

authority are they stating this. Also ask for proof in writing, of

whatever authority they are using. Take what they send you, and file

for a formal state complaint. Parents have the right to be an “equal

participant” in their child’s education. If you are prevented from

observing, then you will be denied your “right” to be an equal


Classroom observations are extremely important for parents to do, as

often as they are able. Things can be going on that you are not aware

of, classroom observations bring these to light. Then you will be able

to use the information to fight for educational changes that your child requires.

Source by JoAnn Collins