FAQ Friday: "Do I have a right to observe the class before agreeing (or not agreeing) to a placement for my child?
Parent Observations v. Student Confidentiality
by Pete Wright and Pam Wright
"Do I have a right to observe the class before agreeing (or not agreeing) to a placement for my child? The special ed director said I cannot observe the class because of confidentiality issues with the other children."
I have represented kids with disabilities since 1978. In all these years, I have never had an instance where a school denied a parent, or the parent's private sector expert, the opportunity to observe a potential placement.
The school board attorneys with whom I have worked over the years have always permitted observations by parents and the parent's outside experts.
When a school administrator takes this position, it creates an appearance of two things (both bad):
(1) that the program is clearly not appropriate and the parent will quickly discover this, and
(2) that the school is attempting to keep important information from parents.
I think many Hearing Officers and Administrative Law Judges would view a refusal to allow an observation as grounds to find that the proposed placement was not appropriate.
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Before you file a complaint, be very, very certain that you will never want to file for a hearing on the same issue.
In 18 Tips for Filing Complaints, Pat Howey shares strategies for filing a complaint with the state department of education.
Staff of the Northwest Arkansas Community Parent Resource Center (including original content as well as curated links to various authors around the web.)
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