Does a parent have the right to observe their child in a special or general ed classroom? Can the advocate or members of the IEP team accompany them in the observation? Members of the Education Law Center in Pennsylvania reached out to the Office of Special Education Programs in the Department of Education and asked if the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) allowed for this type of observation.
The response the Education Law Center received from the OSEP was not a confirmation or denial of a parent’s right to observe their child in a special or general ed classroom. Their response is as follows: “Neither the statute nor the regulations implementing the IDEA provide an entitlement for parents of children with disabilities, or their representatives, to observe their children in the current classroom or proposed educational setting. The determination of who has access to the classroom is determined by State and/or local policies. However, we encourage school district personnel and parents to work together in ways that meet the needs of the parents and the school by providing opportunities for parents to observe their children’s classrooms or proposed educational placements.”
If during the IEP meeting, a goal set forth for the child requires an independent assessment that includes observations in the classroom, the evaluator will need to gain access to the classroom. The IDEA provides that parents of children with disabilities be informed, as specified in their child’s IEP, of their child’s progress toward the annual goals in the IEP and the extent to which that progress is sufficient to enable the child to achieve the goals in the end of the year (§ 300.347 (a)(7)). If observations by an independent evaluator or by other representatives or the parent are necessary to accomplish the goals set forth for the child, make sure that is detailed in the IEP. To read the letter sent by the OSEP, CLICK HERE.