FAQs: Dealing with a difficult parent | TCTA
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FAQs: Dealing with a difficult parent

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Can I be required to meet with a parent during my planning period?

School districts expect teachers to be available to meet with parents. Further, the Texas Education Code provides that planning and preparation time is for “parent-teacher conferences, evaluating students’ work and planning.” However, it is ultimately up to you as to how you utilize planning time on any given day. Therefore, meeting with this parent — absent an emergency or an administrative directive — is ultimately a matter of your professional judgment and discretion.

I understand that I must provide parents with all proper information regarding their child, but what about information that concerns other students, e.g., the number of failing grades on a certain test?

Although the above-described information could be provided without violating the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, you should direct any request for information potentially involving other students’ records or related information to the proper administrator for approval (and possibly review by district legal counsel).

May a parent review my grade book?

Because of student privacy concerns under FERPA, it will usually be preferable to produce the requested information rather than allow the parent to review your grade book. This practice will prevent the unintentional disclosure of student educational records and personally identifiable information within such records that relates to other students.

May a parent file a complaint against me based on disagreeing with a student’s grade?

Yes. Chapter 26 of the TEC requires school districts to adopt policies which provide a grievance process for parents. Most school districts have written policies providing for almost any type of parent or student complaint, including disputing a student grade, usually designated as Policy FNG [LOCAL].

Does a parent have a right to review a test as soon as the child has taken the examination?

Chapter 26 of the TEC provides that a parent is entitled to “review each test administered to the parent’s child after the test is administered.” A reasonable interpretation of this provision would allow you sufficient time to administer the test to all students, including make-up testing for absent pupils.

Can I be directed to change a student’s grade based on a parental or student complaint?

Only under certain limited circumstances. You must be sure that computation of a student’s grade is based upon the student’s demonstrated proficiency of the subject matter for the course or grade level, as well as in compliance with (any) locally adopted grading policies. However, pursuant to TCTA-initiated legislation, the TEC provides that an examination or course grade issued by a teacher is final and may not be changed unless the grade is arbitrary, erroneous or not consistent with local school district grading policy. Further, a school board’s determination in such a case is final and may not be appealed.

May a parent require daily or weekly written progress reports or telephone calls?

No. You may only be required to provide such reports in the manner provided for by state law and any additional requirements that may be imposed under local district policy or by an administrative directive. This means that you must submit student grade reports at least once every 12 weeks. In addition, you must provide written notice of a student’s unsatisfactory performance at least once every three weeks, or during the fourth week of each nine-week grading period.

Do I have to continue to meet with a verbally abusive or threatening parent?

Like other rights, parents who abuse their right of access to schools and teachers may lose such rights or have them curtailed. It may be advisable to have a third-party present, preferably an administrator, during a conference with a hostile parent. In the case of a telephone conference, you may wish to utilize the speaker and inform the parent that an administrator or other educator is present. In situations where the parent may be prone to misrepresent your comments, it may become necessary to communicate only in writing, providing your supervisor a copy of such correspondence, including email.

Most school districts post written procedures for visitor check-in upon arriving on campus, which generally apply to parents. Failure to properly observe such procedures may result in restrictions on parental visits, and in the case of actual disruption of a teacher’s classroom, a possible criminal complaint.

Finally, in the most severe cases involving disruptive parents, school officials may require that such persons leave school premises and, if necessary, eject an individual engaging in disruptive or undesirable behavior or not having legitimate business at the school. Any unauthorized person who trespasses on school grounds may then be criminally prosecuted.

To avoid ongoing difficulties with a parent, may the student be assigned another teacher?

In some instances, moving the student to another teacher’s classroom may be in the best interests of all concerned. However, absent grounds for a formal disciplinary removal, a teacher can only request that her campus administrator transfer the student. Akin to a situation involving such a request by a parent, your principal may not approve this action unless it has no effect on any other student’s classroom assignment.

If you have any questions about dealing with a difficult parent, or any other matter, please contact the TCTA Legal Department at 888-879-8282.

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