228P - Observations and Tours

Introduction
Any student observations must be undertaken with regard for safety, confidentiality, orderly operations of the school, and a focus on instruction. A principal or designee should assure that any request for observation take into account the school and class schedule, priorities for the week and day, and other similar considerations that relate to instructional and other operations of the school. All observations occur at the sole discretion of the principal or principal's designee. Any violation of this policy is grounds for the principal or designee to immediately end the observation, ask the observer to leave the classroom and, if necessary, school grounds. Violation of this policy during an observation or after an observation may cause the principal or designee to prohibit the parent or guardian from conducting future observations. For purposes of this policy, an observation is defined to include time in both instructional and non-instructional areas of the school, including the cafeteria, hallways, and outdoor recreation, during the school day, unless otherwise stated.

Observation by Parents or Legal Guardians
Unless otherwise prohibited under applicable law, including court order, a parent or legal guardian may occasionally observe their child if the parent obtains advance permission of the principal or designee and follows the school’s sign-in procedures as outlined in Policy 609P, Community Relations-School Visitors. The parent or guardian's advanced request for a classroom observation must include a specific purpose for the visit that relates to the child's current instruction. As practicable, the child's teacher(s) will be given advance notice of the parent or guardian’s observation. The parent or guardian will be shown to the classroom or other location by a staff member after the sign-in procedures are completed and at the conclusion of the visit will return directly to the office to complete the sign-out procedure. An administrator may be present during any observation granted to a parent or guardian.

The observation should typically be no more than an hour in length. Observations, when permitted, must be conducted in a manner so as not to be a distraction or interfere with the operation of the class, school, or the focus of instruction. Observations will not typically be permitted in classrooms or locations where the observer's child is not present.

No photographing, videotaping, or other recording or transmission from the classroom is permitted, especially given the confidentiality considerations for other students. Observers should be mindful of confidentiality concerns for the students in the class and should not discuss other students after the observation. If a parent has any comment or input from the observation, it should be shared at that time with the principal or designee out of the presence of students and staff. The principal or designee may also request a conversation with the parent or guardian after the observation. All mobile phones or any other similar electronic device must be de-activated during the observation period.

Observations by Non-Staff Persons Other than Parents
Non-staff individuals other than parents or legal guardians are rarely granted the opportunity to observe a child in a classroom. There must be a specific, substantial reason supplied for the observation and the observation must enhance the education of the child consistent with the mission and curriculum of the school. Written parent permission for the observation must be submitted to the principal or designee at least a week in advance of the requested observation period. If an observation is granted, the individual must follow the same procedures as are required for parents and guardians. Only one individual may observe at a time and an administrator must be present during any observation granted to such an individual. No photographing, videotaping, or other recording or transmission from the classroom is permitted, especially given the confidentiality considerations for other students. All mobile phones or any other similar electronic device must be de-activated during the observation period. Observers should be mindful of confidentiality concerns for the students in the class and should not discuss other students after the observation. Outside observers will be reminded of confidentiality concerns regarding the privacy rights of other students in the class.

Observations in Connection with an Independent Educational Evaluation
An individual may observe a student as part of performing an independent educational evaluation if Frederick County Public Schools has given permission through the Special Instructional Services Department for an independent educational evaluation, the observer is an approved provider of an independent educational evaluation, and a classroom observation was part of the evaluation that is being challenged. The observer must be a professional who is qualified in the same area as the underlying evaluation and licensed by the Commonwealth of Virginia in the particular field of study for which the observation is being undertaken. The observer must provide to the principal or designee documentation regarding credentials and licensure prior to undertaking the observation. The observation cannot exceed the length of time utilized by the original evaluator. Written parent permission must be submitted to the principal or designee, along with the request for observation, at least one week in advance of the proposed date. Only one individual may observe at a time and an administrator must be present during any observation granted to such an individual. No photographing, videotaping, or other recording or transmission from the classroom is permitted, especially given the confidentiality considerations for other students. All mobile phones or any other similar electronic device must be de-activated during the observation period. Observers should be mindful of confidentiality concerns for the students in the class and should not discuss other students after the observation. Observers will be reminded of this and the privacy considerations of other students in the class.

Tours for Prospective Parents or Legal Guardians and Students
Prospective parents or legal guardians may tour the school building with prior approval of the principal or designee, and such tours may be scheduled at the principal or designee's convenience. Prospective parents or guardians and prospective students must complete the sign-in and sign-out procedures as outlined in Policy 609P, Community Relations-School Visitors and must be accompanied by a staff escort at all times. Prospective parents or guardians and prospective students may not visit or observe individual classrooms. No photographing, videotaping, or other recording or transmission from the school grounds is permitted, especially given the confidentiality considerations for other students. All mobile phones or any other similar electronic device must be de-activated during the tour. All tours occur at the sole discretion of the principal or principal's designee.

Cross Reference: 
Policy 609P - Community Relations- School Visitors
Policy 219P - Administration- Portable Communication and Other Devices
Regulation 219R - Administration- Portable Communication Devices

Legal reference:
Va. Const. art VIII § 7

Adopted: May 17, 2016
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