So When You Are Told You Can't Observe Your Child's Classroom - Tell'em to ESSA off! - Granite Grok

So When You Are Told You Can’t Observe Your Child’s Classroom – Tell’em to ESSA off!

ESSA Every Student Succeeds Act

Definitions: The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently reauthorized as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Bottom line: Yes, you can and Federal Law mandates that you can.

I had someone mention to me that they were being refused entrance to their child’s classroom in order to observe how it was running. I think that this is a fairly benign request. After all, it IS your taxes that built the school, provisioning the classrooms, and paying for the staff in that Parents outsourced the education of their children to the Government (in the vast majority of cases). Parents are the employers, after all.

This person was told by the Superintendent that there were two reasons why they couldn’t do that:

  • Child Protection Act
  • Teachers Union contract

The former outlines who gets access to your kids in school. If you are to volunteer in the schools, you (effectively) will need to get fingerprinted and a background check done before being given access to kids in school. I get that part but it doesn’t preclude a Parent from merely going in, sitting in a classroom, and watch what is being taught to their child.

I’m not going to identify which SAU this Super is in but I pulled the contract (almost every SAU has their Teacher and Support Staff Contracts on their websites) and read it.


He flat-out lied to this person.  NOTHING in there to preclude this person from going in to observe their child. NOTHING AT ALL.

But I asked Ann Marie Banfield, GraniteGrok’s resident Education Activist, about this and she sent this over:

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently reauthorized as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states:

Section 1116 Parent and Family Engagement
[…] each school served under this part shall jointly develop with parents for all children served under this part a school-parent compact. […] Such compact shall —
(2) address the importance of communication between teachers and parents on an ongoing basis through, at a minimum —
(A) parent-teacher conferences in elementary schools, at least annually, during which the compact shall be discussed as the compact relates to the individual child’s achievement;
(B) frequent reports to parents on their children’s progress; and
(C) reasonable access to staff, opportunities to volunteer and participate in their child’s class, and observation of classroom activities [boldface added]; and

This means that the Superintendent LIED with regard to what Federal Law mandates what is permissible to Parents in their local school system.

I told this person “Make him GROVEL.  We’ll stand beside you. With cameras as necessary (or to amuse us, either one works for me).

Originally, when I was told this by this person, I immediately started the process in my SAU to see what I would be told. For starters, nothing about being restricted by the Teachers Union contract, so good on that.

I did run into one problem but it was more a paperwork situation for TMEW and I: the school had us identified as “Grandparents / Guardians” when I called the school to see what was the process and if there were restrictions. In “moving information” from his nursery school, it turned out that the “office” wasn’t aware we had adopted him when I first called.

To rectify it, all they wanted was a copy of the Judge’s Adoption Order and to see the original (the Court Seal bit which I can understand). Brought that down to show (normally it hangs on a wall in our home) along with a copy for their files.  Nov 4th is when they’ll do the fingerprinting et al for the Child Protection Act; given I used to hold a Top Secret clearance for the Navy, had a background done for my NH Revolver/Pistol (concealed carry) license, and checked by the FBI for my National Firearms Act “device,” I don’t think this will be a problem.

So, when a school or Superintendent or School Board that visiting your child’s classroom is not possible, now you know. Take the above and quote it. Print it out and hand it to them.

Make them Follow The Law.