Starting next school year, parents of Richland 2 students will be asked to let educators know in advance when they want to go into classrooms.
Some of the 19 elementary schools in the district have used different standards for allowing parents and guardians onto school grounds or into classrooms, said Keith Price, an assistant superintendent.
The issue arose earlier this school year when a father questioned one school’s practice, district officials said, declining to identify the school or the parent on Tuesday.
The issue took off when other parents and educators did not agree on the best procedures. Some educators favored more restrictive procedures that tilted toward safety and fewer classroom interruptions, said Price and district spokeswoman Libby Roof.
Denean Greene-Rivers, a parent and member of two school improvement councils, told the district’s board she and others favor an open-door policy.
The board on Tuesday asked schools to encourage scheduled visits where parents are escorted to classrooms. The new procedure does not ban unannounced visits. But one of three senior school leaders must be notified of any surprise visitors.
The board’s endorsement follows more restrictive versions that would have set 24-hour notification, then roughly 12-hour notifications by parents.
The debate within the district and among parents prompted one organization to sound a loud alarm.
“This is a direct affront to parental rights!!” the Richland Two Black Parents Association wrote in an email asking for opposition to the proposal.
Greene-Rivers, the only parent to speak at the board meeting, said she’s not satisfied with Tuesday’s decision.
“I urge you to go back to the drawing board,” she said. “I would like to see Richland 2 schools have open-door policies without limited visitation ... that parents don’t have to tell when they’re coming.”
That’s particularly for parents of special-needs students, Greene-Rivers said.
Price said a few parents were abusing access privileges, including asking teachers about their child’s classroom performance while the instructor was teaching a class. Other times, several parents showed up in the same classroom.
Spokeswoman Roof said the chief intent of the new procedure is to protect students and the classroom environment.
“We can become very concerned about who we have in our schools – especially in this day and age.”