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My district says I can't observe my child's program. . . can they do that?

posted May 27, 2014, 6:50 PM by Diane Willcutts   [ updated Nov 9, 2014, 2:02 PM ]
The federal law is silent on the parent's right to observe their child at school.  

However, if parents of children without disabilities are permitted to observe their child's programs, parents of children with disabilities must be permitted to observe as well.  If the District is saying "no," ask to please see their written policy regarding visits to the classroom.

In addition, Connecticut state regulations do require that state-approved private special education have a mechanism in place to permit classroom observation by parents of current or prospective students, and so it would be reasonable to surmise that public schools have the same obligation.  

Connecticut regulations (10-76d-17) state:

(11) Each private special education program shall have policies and procedures which permit parents of enrolled and prospective children to visit the program and observe children on a reasonable basis in order for the parents to participate meaningfully in PPT meetings for their children;

The spirit of IDEA intends that parents must be equal participants in their children's IEP teams.  To do this, parents need to have the same access to information--including observation of classrooms--that the school team has.  If the District refuses to permit the family to observe, document this refusal in a polite letter and state that this is interfering with the family's ability to participate as equal members of their child's Planning and Placement Team (PPT).  

If your district still refuses, please file a complaint with the Connecticut Bureau of Special Education.  At best, they will compel your District to permit the observation.  Even if not, they will have documentation indicating that Districts are denying families the ability to observe their children at school.  Very important!  If you are interested in filing a state complaint, more information is here.  

If you still feel lost, please let me know!  Chances are, I can help.  My email address is diane.willcutts@gmail.com.    

Good luck!

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